Major League Baseball
Juan Soto, Mike Trout headline Ben Verlander's Team of the Week
Major League Baseball

Juan Soto, Mike Trout headline Ben Verlander's Team of the Week

Updated Apr. 15, 2024 2:52 p.m. ET

This week brought a return to form for several household names. 

The Los Angeles Angels might be going nowhere fast after the departure of Shohei Ohtani, but Mike Trout is reminding us all that he is still Mike freaking Trout. Meanwhile, Juan Soto finally made my Team of the Week for the first time this season, and I had a tough choice to make at designated hitter between the red-hot Ohtani and another one of my favorite players, Yordan Álvarez.

Several young players made the cut, as well, including two from the Baltimore Orioles — no, not Jackson Holliday, though I'm sure he will be on the list at some point this year — and a certain Cincinnati Reds sensation who looks like he might be ready to deliver on the incredible hype he entered the league with last year.

Let's dive right in!


Catcher: Willson Contreras, Milwaukee Brewers
.423 batting average, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1.308 OPS

Most of the Brewers' lineup has been on a tear this past week, but Contreras stands out with a really impressive performance.

First Baseman: Josh Naylor, Cleveland Guardians
.467 batting average, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 6 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1.752 OPS

The Guardians have been playing really well at 10-5 on the season in spite of injuries and poor performance from key members of their seemingly vaunted pitching rotation. Naylor is a massive part of that surprising success, as he went beast mode this week. 

Second Baseman: Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves
.400 batting average, 10 H, 6 RBI, 1.004 OPS

Albies is lot of fun to watch as a do-it-all second baseman. He's been huge for the Braves as they attempt to live up to those lofty preseason expectations while battling injuries of their own. Albies is one of the more underrated second basemen in all of baseball, between his switch-hitting ability, great defense and base-stealing prowess. I'm happy to give him some shine on this list.

Third Baseman: Jordan Westburg, Baltimore Orioles
.316 batting average, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1.093 OPS

Westburg is one of the lesser known members of the Orioles' young core. A lot of people know Adley Rutschman or Holliday, but they also need to know the names of guys like Westburg. Red Sox fans sure do after his clutch home run over the center-field corner of the Green Monster in Fenway Park capped off a massive comeback for the Orioles this past weekend.

Shortstop: Elly De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds
.400 batting average, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 1.550 OPS

Seeing De La Cruz catch fire again brings my heart joy. A major reason I was so high on the Reds coming into this year was my belief that De La Cruz would take a massive step forward, given that he sort of fizzled out last season after his incredible first few weeks in the major leagues. We must not forget that he was the top prospect in baseball for a reason and hit incredibly well across every level of the minor leagues before his call-up. Of course, De La Cruz can hit at the MLB level, just give the man some time! He's only 22 years old and 2024 marks his first full major-league season. Now, he appears to be putting it all together right when the Reds have really needed him to step up.

Outfield: Colton Cowser, Baltimore Orioles
.450 batting average, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1.578 OPS

Here's another underrated young Orioles player, and get ready, because the pipeline that has been built in Baltimore will keep churning them out. The beauty of a team with depth like the Orioles is it takes so much pressure off even a No. 1 overall prospect like Holliday, as he gets acclimated to the MLB level.

Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
.348 batting average, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1.293 OPS

Trout is still good at baseball, in case anyone was wondering. His Hall of Fame case is already secure, but a week like this past one, back on another struggling Angels team, is a good reminder to all of us that he remains one of the best in the entire sport.

Outfield: Juan Soto, New York Yankees
.333 batting average, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1.197 OPS

The newest superstar in the Bronx is having an unbelievable start to his Yankees career. He has made the biggest difference for New York compared to last year. Without Soto, and with Aaron Judge struggling mightily thus far, the Yankees would be in huge trouble. Instead, Judge now has time to settle in and improve as the season gets underway without the Yankees' offense being as reliant on him as it was in the past, especially last year. It no longer feels like this team goes as Judge goes because of Soto's ability to also carry a lineup.

Elly De La Cruz leads Ben Verlander's Team of the Week

Designated Hitter: Yordan Álvarez, Houston Astros
.440 batting average, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1.308 OPS

If Álvarez is not the best pure hitter in the sport, he's easily in the top three. Not just because of these gaudy stats in April, either, but also how he has continually shown up for Houston over the past several postseasons when the lights are brightest.

Starting Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers
1-0, 7 IP, 3 hits allowed, 0 earned runs, 14 strikeouts

He just doesn't miss, as the kids say. Glasnow has suddenly positioned himself as an early favorite for National League Cy Young (thanks in part to Spencer Strider's season-ending injury) with a 3-0 record and 2.55 ERA over his 24 innings of work. His most recent start this past week was his best — no runs allowed, 14 strikeouts and not a single walk issued. That is dominance and certainly worthy of my starting pitcher slot.

Relief Pitcher: Kyle Finnegan, Washington Nationals
3.2 IP, 3 saves, 3 hits allowed, 0 earned runs (1 unearned), 3 strikeouts

Finnegan has been a sneakily good closer, but the Nationals don't win enough games for him to get the attention he deserves. I don't expect him to make many more appearances on this list over the coming weeks, not because I doubt his ability to finish games, but because I doubt the Nationals' ability to put him in position often enough. With that said, he seems like a perfect candidate to start popping up in trade rumors once we head into the summer. 

Player of the Week: Elly De La Cruz

De La Cruz has been just as impressive off the field this year as he has been on it. I so admire his commitment to learning English so he can better communicate with the media and, most importantly, the fans. Plus, there are only a handful of baseball players alive with the ability to hit a 450-foot home run and an inside-the-park home run in the same game, which is exactly why De La Cruz is one of the most fun players to watch in the entire league. Not only is his success crucial for the Reds, it's huge for the entire game of baseball.

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Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the "Flippin' Bats" podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.


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