Major League Baseball
The (first-half) All-MLB Teams
Major League Baseball

The (first-half) All-MLB Teams

Updated Jul. 6, 2023 8:10 p.m. ET

With the All-Star break approaching, it feels like the right time to look at which players have been the best in baseball.

Sure, the simplest way to do that is to look at the All-Star rosters in Seattle — but that can be deceiving. The most popular players aren’t always the best ones, and those rosters must consist of at least one player from every team. That works for an All-Star format, giving every fan base a player to cheer for, but it’s not completely indicative of the absolute peak performers around the league. 

Instead, determining which players have been the best in baseball is more like putting together an All-MLB Team, which Major League Baseball has done after every season since 2019.

So, consider this the "First-Half All-MLB First and Second Teams," examining the best players at every position so far:


The First Team

C: Sean Murphy, Braves

On June 17, Murphy left a game with a hamstring tightness. He returned five days later and proceeded to record hits in six of his next 15 at-bats, raising his OPS for the year to .949 at a time no other major-league catcher sported a mark above .900. He has been arguably both the best offensive and defensive catcher in the game this year. 

1B: Freddie Freeman, Dodgers 

Freeman reached the 2,000-hit plateau this season. Years down the road, he could very well be the next major-leaguer to reach 3,000 hits. A model of consistency, Freeman leads all first basemen in hits, doubles, OPS and — showcasing his full set of skills — steals! The 33-year-old has taken 11 bases this year to lead all Dodgers. According to FanGraphs, he’s the only first baseman worth at least three wins thus far. 

2B: Luis Arráez, Marlins

When you’re this close to .400 this late in the year, you get an auto-bid to the All-MLB squad. I don’t make the rules. Truthfully, this could be a toss-up with Marcus Semien, given the Rangers second baseman’s all-around contributions, but there are few cooler stories in baseball right now than Arráez’s pursuit of Ted Williams’ elusive mark. The fact that he’s doing this in his first season in Miami — and will very likely secure an American League and National League batting title in back-to-back seasons — adds to the intrigue. 

John Smoltz on whether Luis Arráez could hit .400

SS: Corey Seager, Rangers 

Seager missed a month and has still roped more doubles than any shortstop in baseball while knocking in more runs than all but two other players at his position. Sure, the missed time due to a hamstring injury means he’s not yet qualified, but those feats are remarkable and demonstrate how much better he has been offensively than every other shortstop. He leads all of them in every slash line category (minimum 100 plate appearances). 

3B: José Ramírez, Guardians 

No offense at all to All-Star Game starter Josh Jung, whose sensational season has been a major part of the resurgent Rangers offense, but Ramírez has been the best third baseman in baseball this year. He leads all qualified players at the hot corner in hits, batting average and slugging percentage, has more walks than strikeouts, and grades out as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game. 

OF: Luis Robert Jr., White Sox 

Robert might be the only White Sox representative, but his presence on the All-Star roster is completely deserved. In a bounce-back year, he has been the lone bright spot in Chicago and the best outfielder in the American League this season. His 25 home runs are double the amount he hit last year and lead all outfielders, while his nine outs above average in center field are tied for the most among all MLB outfielders. 

OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves 

He’s the best outfielder in baseball right now and would be the best player if not for some guy named Ohtani. Acuña leads all MLB outfielders in hits, runs, batting average, slugging and OPS. He is potentially on his way to becoming the first player ever to record 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a season. Acuña and Esteury Ruiz have already stolen more bags than any outfielder did all season last year. 

Ohtani, Acuña Jr. headline Verlander's Team of the Month

OF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers 

It is only a matter of time before the seven-time All-Star sets a career high in homers. He has already belted 23 of them — a mark that trails only Robert for the most among MLB outfielders — and his nine home runs to lead off a game are nearly double that of any other leadoff hitter in baseball this season (Kyle Schwarber ranks second with five). 

DH: Shohei Ohtani, Angels 

The best player on the planet is also currently the best hitter on the planet. At the plate, Ohtani leads all qualified hitters in homers, slugging and OPS. He is striking out a career-low amount while striking out opponents near career-high levels. On the mound, Ohtani ranks second in the AL in strikeouts and opponents’ batting average. There’s a chance he hits more homers and strikes out more batters than any player in his league. However much we’re talking about him, it’s not enough. 

Is Shohei Ohtani's season for Angels the greatest of all time?

SP: Framber Valdez, Astros 

Valdez’s 2.49 ERA is the lowest mark in the AL. The ground-ball maestro is striking out 26.3% of the batters he faces this year — his highest rate over the course of a full season, not including the COVID-shortened year. 

SP: Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays 

The AL leader in strikeouts, Gausman has been the most valuable pitcher in baseball by fWAR and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his past 11 starts. He has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league, and his performance has been all the more important as the Blue Jays try to get Alek Manoah back to form. 

SP: Nathan Eovaldi, Rangers 

He is the only pitcher this year with two complete games, his 0.99 WHIP is the third-best mark among qualified pitchers in baseball, and he's produced like a bona fide ace in the Texas rotation with Jacob deGrom out. 

SP: Justin Steele, Cubs 

Who had Steele as the major-league ERA leader at the halfway mark? He never gets hit hard, he has allowed just three homers in 85.1 innings, he has cut his walk rate almost in half from last year and is getting hitters to chase at a career-best rate. As long as Steele and Marcus Stroman continue pitching the way they are, the Cubs will have a chance in the Central. 

SP: Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks

While his latest results haven’t been quite as dominant as we’re used to, he has the highest fWAR among all NL pitchers and remains a Cy Young front-runner. He has been the ace for the surprising first-place D-backs, and he demonstrated on his run in late April — 27 scoreless innings over four scoreless appearances — what he can do at his best. 

Cal Ripken Jr. on if the Orioles can win the AL East

RP: Felix Bautista, Orioles 

Either Orioles late-inning specialist could’ve been up for this spot, but Bautista looks like the answer here. He has been worth more wins (fWAR) to his team than any reliever in baseball while sporting a 1.16 ERA and the highest strikeout rate of any bullpen arm. 

RP: Alexis Díaz, Reds

A major component of the youth movement in Cincinnati that has the Reds atop the NL Central, Díaz is tied for the NL lead in saves and has blown only one all season. 

The Second Team

C: Will Smith, Dodgers
1B: Yandy DíazRays 
2B: Marcus Semien, Rangers
SS: Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
3B: Isaac Paredes, Rays
OF: Juan Soto, Padres
OF: Corbin CarrollDiamondbacks 
OF: Randy Arozarena, Rays
DH: Jorge SolerMarlins 
SP: Sonny GrayTwins 
SP: Shane McClanahan, Rays
SP: Gerrit ColeYankees 
SP: Clayton KershawDodgers
SP: Spencer StriderBraves 
RP: Yennier Canó, Orioles
RP: Josh Hader, Padres

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner. 


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