MLB recently implemented the selection of the first and second All-MLB teams. This has been a well-established tradition in other major leagues like the NFL and NBA. Still, for some reason or another, it was never a part of baseball’s culture, which instead focused on Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, and other more specified awards while otherwise settling for mere midseason All-Star honors.
Last year, we took this opportunity to build the All-AL East lineup, and with MLB divulging the nominees for this year’s selection last Thursday, it’s as good a time as any to select the group that stood out in what was arguably the best division in baseball.
We’ll do a two-part series covering the starting lineup in this article, and the pitching staff selections will come out tomorrow.
Catcher: Adley Rutschman (Orioles)
113 G, .254/.362/.445, 35 2B, 13 HR, 5.3 fWAR
Jose Trevino exceeded even the highest expectations about the upgrade he would provide over Gary Sánchez, in particular from a defensive standpoint. Despite being acquired in the week just before Opening Day, the Yankees’ catcher went on to win the Platinum Glove.
However, this All-AL East selection has to go to the Orioles’ ascendant star. Rutschman came into this league as one of the more highly-touted prospects of the last decade. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft lived up to the hype, posting elite numbers behind the plate, and showcasing the leadership that separated him from the pack.
In his rookie campaign, Rutshcman posted an All-Star caliber hitting line with a 128 OPS+, and accomplished the outstanding feat of opening up the conversation for Rookie of the Year, when Julio Rodriguez looked like a unanimous winner having started the year in the big leagues.
First Baseman: Anthony Rizzo (Yankees)
130 G, .224/.340/.480, 21 2B, 32 HR, 2.4 fWAR
Anthony Rizzo and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finished the 2022 season with the same 132 wRC+, but their campaign finished with extremely different contexts. Guerrero was the epitome of the Blue Jays this season — talented, productive, but ultimately underwhelming. In a vacuum, the reigning AL MVP runner-up put up an All-Star caliber campaign. However, it was one that fell well-short of his expectations.
Rizzo on the other hand had his best seasons since 2019, and managed his first 30+ HR season (32) since 2017. All in all, Rizzo gets my nod for the All-AL East team.
Second Baseman: Gleyber Torres (Yankees)
140 G, .257/.310/.451, 28 2B, 24 HR, 2.7 fWAR
Torres didn’t exactly ball out this year, and to a certain extent, he is still not close to the player he was when he first came up. But with that in mind, he was by far and away the best second baseman in this division, and a solid presence in the lineup that led the AL in runs.
With Marcus Semien leaving the Blue Jays for the Rangers before the season, Santiago Espinal posting a sub-.650 OPS after the All-Star break, and Brandon Lowe having an injury-riddled year, there wasn’t a lot of competition for this spot.
Third Baseman: Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
141 G, .295/.358/.521, 42 2B, 27 HR, 4.9 fWAR
Matt Chapman had a very good first year in Toronto, but as long as Devers is healthy, his spot in this team seems like a lock for years to come — that is, if he sticks around in Boston. He remains an absolute menace in the heart of the lineup at Fenway.
To Red Sox fans who are having fun at the Yankees’ expense over Aaron Judge’s impending free agency, enjoy it while you can because you guys are next. An extension seems like a distant possibility right now for Boston and their star third baseman.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox)
150 G, .307/.377/.456, 38 2B, 15 HR, 6.1 fWAR
The Red Sox shortstop did all that he needed to secure a big payday following his opt-out this year, and then some. Even in a rich market, Bogaerts is bound to stand out as one of the premiere names in free agency.
Bo Bichette got off to a bit of a slow start but finished the year strong with another 4.0+ fWAR campaign, and down south in Florida, Wander Franco battled injuries from start to finish. So this has to belong to Bogaerts.
Left Fielder: Randy Arozarena (Rays)
153 G, .263/.327/.445, 41 2B, 20 HR, 2.7 fWAR
Arozarena posted a quality season that is rare in this day and age: 20 homers, 30+ steals, and 40+ doubles to boot. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is settling in nicely as a staple of this Rays’ offense.
The 27-year-old out of Cuba is the only representative of the Rays' lineup in this squad, but not by default, and rather by merit.
Center Fielder: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
157 G, .311/.425/.686, 28 2B, 62 HR, 11.4 fWAR
What else could be said about Aaron Judge’s 2022 season that hasn’t been already? The Yankees’ superstar managed the rare campaign that transcends any awards, accolades, and praises. Decades from now, history will look back at 2022 as the year that Judge took over baseball.
Please don’t let him leave in free agency, Yankees. Don’t do it.
Right Fielder: Anthony Santander (Orioles)
133 G, .240/.318/.455, 22 2B, 25 HR, 2.5 fWAR
The Orioles’ outfielder had a breakout year as a 27-year-old, mashing a career-high 33 long balls, and placing himself as one of the interesting pieces of this new-look Baltimore squad. Santander joins Rutschman as the two Orioles in this All-AL East lineup. He gets the slight nod from us over the Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernández.
Designated Hitter: George Springer (Blue Jays)
133 G, .267/.342/.472, 22 2B, 25 HR, 4.2 fWAR
Springer had no shot at the center field position in this team, with Judge basically showing up anyone that dares to call themselves an elite hitter in this sport. However, since he did play 40 games as the DH with the Jays trying to manage his health, he gets the nod there.
It also helps that no team in the division had an outstanding DH-first player. Giancarlo Stanton had a terrific first half, but injuries and ineffectiveness derailed his last few months.
- George Springer (DH)
- Aaron Judge (CF)
- Xander Bogaerts (SS)
- Rafael Devers (3B)
- Adley Rutschman (C)
- Anthony Rizzo (1B)
- Gleyber Torres (2B)
- Anthony Santander (RF)
- Randy Arozarena (LF)