The 2023 Major League Baseball season started exactly four weeks ago Thursday. It's been fun and there's a lot more to come in our six-month marathon.
On the subject of fun, let's name a fictional All-MLB team for what we've seen so far. This isn't like an All-Star Game where previous star power might factor in, nor will it even be divided up into AL and NL teams. We are only highlighting what we've seen in 2023 to this point from individuals. The criteria is simple: Who have the best players been so far?
This is a total subjective list compiled by one person and the sample is so small, we're bound to disagree in several places while there are only so many names I can mention before it becomes a participation trophy.
All stats are through April 26
What an incredible acquisition he's proven to be, both in working with the pitching staff and in having what is shaping up to be the best offensive season of his career. He's getting on base at over a .400 clip while slugging over .600 and leading the best team in the NL from behind the plate.
On top of the .333/.407/.535 slash line, take note that Vlad has only struck out 12 times in 113 plate appearances. He's still only 24 years old, too.
Second team: Yandy Díaz, Rays. The leadoff man and tone-setter for the best offense (and team) in baseball to this point.
I'm guessing the Twins thought they were selling high on Arraez when trading him this past offseason -- and they got a very good starting pitcher in Pablo López -- and not many argued. Arraez leads the majors in hitting (.421!) and on-base percentage (.482) so far, though. He's only struck out four times in 85 plate appearances!
First team: Matt Chapman, Blue Jays
The AL leader in average (.364), on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, OPS+ and the MLB leader in total bases, Chapman is off to an absurd start. He's the AL WAR leader among position players in both baseball-reference.com and Fangraphs.
You can't say enough about the job Bogaerts has done in elevating the Padres' offense in the early going through Fernando Tatis Jr.'s suspension while Juan Soto and Manny Machado got off to slow starts. Bogaerts is slashing .326/.414/.526 with more walks than strikeouts.
Second team: Wander Franco, Rays. A .302 hitter who leads the majors in doubles and has five steals, this appears to be Franco's superstar breakout.
First team: Randy Arozarena, Rays
The foundation of the Rays' stellar offense, he's hitting .341/.410/.571 with 24 RBI and plenty of big hits on the young season. Is this his regular-season breakout?
Formerly a liability in center, Nimmo is now great out there defensively. He's also arguably the best leadoff man in baseball, hitting .337 with a .449 on-base percentage, more walks than strikeouts and three stolen bases.
Second team: James Outman, Dodgers. Several voids needed to be filled in the Dodgers' lineup heading into this season and Outman has seized an everyday job and run with it. He's quite the stat-sheet stuffer.
First team: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
He leads the majors in hits, stolen bases and total bases (tied) while also leading the NL in runs scored. Clearly not fully recovered from his ACL surgery last season, Acuña is slashing .363/.449/.569 and is the MLB leader in both versions of WAR while playing for a first-place team.
First team: Harold Ramirez, Rays
What a Rays offense so far, huh? Ramirez is hitting an outrageous .354/.417/.677.
Second team: Yordan Alvarez, Astros. Still one of the scariest hitters a pitcher will ever see digging into the batter's box, Alvarez has 27 RBI in 20 games.
A "bridesmaid" expert, Cole has finished second in Cy Young voting twice, fourth twice, fifth once and ninth once. So far this year, he's 4-0 with a 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 34 innings. He's already at 2.1 bWAR after having just 2.5 all season in 2022.
Second team: Spencer Strider, Braves. He's .
Honorable mention: Shohei Ohtani, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Justin Steele, Zac Gallen, Graham Ashcraft, Marcus Stroman, Eduardo Rodríguez, Hunter Brown, Shane McClanahan, Hunter Brown, Jeffrey Springs
First team: Josh Hader, Padres
This is the toughest position to judge in small samples, as many only pitch one inning at a time. Still, Hader has pretty well re-established himself as the best reliever in baseball. He's leading the majors with nine saves and hasn't blown any. He's only allowed one run in 12 innings while having struck out 17.
Second team: David Bednar, Pirates. The Pirates are tied with the Braves for the best record in the NL and I still wasn't able to find much room on here for individuals. That's a true testament to them being a sum-of-its-parts ballclub to this point, but we'll also give some love to the closer. Bednar looks to be putting together his second straight All-Star season, as he's eight for nine in save chances with a 0.82 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings. He also hasn't issued an unintentional walk.
Honorable mention: José Alvarado, Mason Thompson, Felix Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Bryan Abreu, Mark Leiter Jr., Alex Young, Eli Morgan, Devin Williams and I'm sorry but surely we're missing a lot of deserving names. As noted, it's just such a small sample.
- MVP: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
- Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, Yankees
- Rookie of the Year: James Outman, Dodgers
- Manager of the Year: Kevin Cash, Rays