Best MLB team at each position in 2023

With nearly a month to go earlier than pitchers and catchers start reporting for Spring Training, it is time we take a look at which groups are projected to have the most effective group of gamers at each position. With a hat tip to our associates at FanGraphs, we are able to do exactly that.

Here’s a breakdown of which groups have the strongest projected performances at each spot on the diamond in 2023, by FanGraphs Depth Chart WAR:

Catcher: Blue Jays (5.9 WAR)
Key participant(s): Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen

This is clearly a position of power for Toronto, which might be why it dealt Gabriel Moreno, the Jays’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, together with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the D-backs for catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho. Even with out Moreno, although, Kirk and Jansen ought to be a formidable tandem behind the plate in 2023.

Kirk had a breakout marketing campaign at the plate final season, posting a .786 OPS with 14 dwelling runs and three.8 WAR. Jansen, in the meantime, launched 15 homers and had an .855 OPS. His WAR was 2.6. If they produce something near that in ’23, given the firepower up and down Toronto’s lineup, be careful for the Jays.

Closest challengers: Orioles (5.5), Dodgers (5.1), Braves (4.9), Phillies (4.6), Yankees (4.6)

First base: Dodgers and Blue Jays (4.8 WAR)
Key participant(s) — LAD: Freddie Freeman
Key participant(s) — TOR: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brandon Belt

Freeman’s first season with the Dodgers began slowly, however when he obtained going, he took off and by no means seemed again, ending with a .918 OPS and probably the most hits (199) and doubles (47) in the Majors. He additionally led the National League in runs scored (117) and on-base proportion (.407). His FanGraphs WAR was a career-high 7.1.

Meanwhile, Guerrero did not replicate his excellent 2021 marketing campaign, for which he completed second solely to Shohei Ohtani for the American League MVP Award, however he nonetheless posted an .818 OPS with 32 homers and, as we generally overlook, he is nonetheless solely 23 We might not have seen the most effective of Guerrero but.

It’s robust to mission Belt’s efficiency as a result of he is coming off surgical procedure to take care of persistent knee points that derailed his ’22 marketing campaign, however he is solely a 12 months faraway from the most effective offensive stretch of his profession — from 2020-21, he posted a .988 OPS with 38 homers in 148 video games.

Closest challengers: Cardinals (4.4), Mets (4.4), Braves (3.6), Rangers (3.1), Rays (3.0)

Second base: Astros (4.5 WAR)
Key participant(s): Jose Altuve

Altuve had a subpar season in 2020, when he hit .219/.286/.344 over 48 video games in the pandemic-shortened marketing campaign. But he bounced again in 2021, and in ’22, he loved his greatest efficiency since he received the AL MVP Award 5 years earlier. He posted a .921 OPS with 28 homers to assist lead the Astros to a World Series championship, and there is nothing to point he will not be simply nearly as good in ’23. The conservative FanGraphs projections have him placing up 4.2 WAR this 12 months after 6.6 final season.

Closest challengers: Guardians (4.2), Rays (4.1), Yankees (4.0), Rangers (3.9), Padres (3.8)

Shortstop: Rays (5.6 WAR)
Key participant(s): Wander Franco

We’ve solely gotten to see Franco for 153 video games since he made his MLB debut in 2021, with accidents (a proper quad pressure and a fractured proper wrist) sidelining him for about half the ’22 marketing campaign. Still not even 22 years outdated, the sky is the restrict for Franco, whom FanGraphs tasks to supply 5.2 WAR in ’23. And why not? Despite the accidents, in a couple of season’s price of Major League expertise, he is hit .282/.337/.439 and has produced 4.7 WAR.

Closest challengers: Twins (5.3), Padres (5.0), Rangers (5.0), Mets (4.7), Phillies (4.7)

Third base: Cardinals (5.5 WAR)
Key participant(s): Nolan Arenado

In what should not come as a shock, the Cards high the listing at the recent nook because of 2022 NL MVP Award finalist Arenado, who completed behind teammate Paul Goldschmidt and fellow third baseman Manny Machado. Arenado is an incredible offensive participant, after all, as evidenced by one other nice 12 months at the plate in ’22, when he had an .891 OPS with 30 homers. But a lot of the worth FanGraphs tasks for ’23 (5.3 WAR) comes from his unimaginable protection, which netted him a tenth consecutive Gold Glove Award final 12 months.

Closest challengers: Guardians (5.3), Astros (5.2), Padres (5.0), Rays (4.8), Red Sox (4.6)

Left discipline: Astros (4.7 WAR)
Key participant(s): Yordan Alvarez

Alvarez is coming off a spectacular season in which he completed third in AL MVP Award voting because of a .306/.406/.613 slash line with 37 dwelling runs — that is an MVP efficiency in most seasons, however if you’re up in opposition to a man who hit 62 homers and a two-way famous person who’s reaching feats we have by no means seen, third place is definitely an honorable end. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Alvarez is barely getting higher yearly, and he is nonetheless simply 25 years outdated.

Closest challengers: Red Sox (4.0), Padres (3.7), Guardians (3.4), Cardinals (3.3), Brewers (3.1)

Center discipline: Mariners (5.8 WAR)
Key participant(s): Julio Rodríguez

Rodríguez had about nearly as good of a rookie 12 months in the Major Leagues as they arrive — he grew to become the quickest participant in AL/NL historical past to achieve 25 homers and 25 steals, placed on a present in the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium, led his membership to its first postseason look in 21 years, and took dwelling AL Rookie of the Year honors.

J-Rod posted an .853 OPS with 28 homers and 25 steals, ending seventh in AL MVP Award voting and producing 5.3 WAR. FanGraphs’ projection of 5.6 in 2023 is outstanding, in that it, together with different fashionable projections, has him increased than most of the recreation’s elite gamers, together with fellow middle fielder Mike Trout.

Closest challengers: Angels (5.4), Mets (4.9), Braves (4.8), Cardinals (4.1), Yankees (4.1), Twins (4.1)

Right discipline: Padres (6.9 WAR)
Key participant(s): Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto

What a combo right here. The projection could be even increased if Tatis wasn’t going to overlook the primary three weeks or so of the season whereas serving out his suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. What will we see from Tatis after he is missed a whole season-plus? Will he be the identical Tatis that we noticed from 2019-21, when he had a .965 OPS with 81 homers and 52 steals in his first 273 video games? Only time will inform.

Soto, in the meantime, had a “down 12 months” in 2022, when he hit .242/.401/.452 with 27 homers and a Major League-leading 135 walks. But we’re speaking concerning the man who, at age 24, is sort of presumably the sport’s most interesting hitter. Barring an damage, a Soto bounce-back looks like a foregone conclusion.

Closest challengers: Yankees (6.2), Dodgers (5.6), Astros (5.5), Braves (4.6), Cubs (3.5)

Designated hitter: Angels (3.3 WAR)
Key participant(s): Shohei Ohtani

Really no shock right here. The Angels have Ohtani, the runner-up for AL MVP final 12 months after successful the consideration in 2021. It took Aaron Judge and his AL-record 62 homers to dethrone the two-way sensation final season regardless of Ohtani really having a greater season on the mound than he had in ’21.

In 2022, Ohtani posted an .875 OPS with 34 homers whereas additionally dominating on the mound, the place he turned in a 2.33 ERA and AL-best 11.9 strikeouts per 9 innings over 28 begins for the Angels. He continues to amaze us even in spite of everything he is already completed in each arenas, and subsequent season ought to be no exception.

Closest challengers: Astros (3.1), Yankees (2.7), Blue Jays (2.7), Padres (2.7), White Sox (2.7)

Starting pitcher: Yankees (16.3 WAR)
Key participant(s): Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas

This is what occurs if you signal Rodón so as to add him to a beginning rotation that already options Cole and Cortes — the projections love you. Cole is Cole — that’s, he is an ace and a workhorse who’s a menace to win the Cy Young Award year-in and year-out. Cortes had a breakout marketing campaign in 2022, posting a 2.44 ERA in 28 begins for New York.

Enter Rodón, who led the Majors in FIP (2.25) and strikeouts-per-nine innings (12) in his solely season with the Giants. He’s one other frontline lefty to pair with Cortes, and that might make the Yanks’ rotation the most effective in baseball.

New York may very well be with out Montas for a month or in order he continues to take care of shoulder irritation, however there may be depth there, with Domingo Germán, Clarke Schmidt, et al. accessible to fill in if mandatory.

Closest challengers: Mets (15.8), Rangers (15.6), Brewers (14.8), Braves (14.4), Phillies (13.8)

Relief pitcher: Braves (4.5 WAR)
Key participant(s): Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter, Collin McHugh

Iglesias was large for Atlanta after the Braves acquired him from the Angels previous to the Trade Deadline, pitching to a 0.34 ERA in 28 appearances down the stretch. In eight MLB seasons, the right-hander owns a 3.00 ERA and 157 saves, spending the primary five-plus seasons of his large league profession with the Reds.

Minter continues to be a dependable late-inning lefty with closing expertise. He had a 2.06 ERA and struck out 35 p.c of the batters he confronted over a career-high 75 appearances (70 innings) final 12 months.

McHugh was nice in his first season with Atlanta, posting a 2.60 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 58 appearances (69 1/3 innings). He’s 35, however hasn’t proven any indicators that point is catching up with him simply but.

Closest challengers: Mets (4.4), Guardians (4.3), Mariners (4.2), Phillies (4.2), Twins (4.2)

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