The regular season ended the same way as 2011 and 2012. Evan Longoria hit a dramatic home run. He sent the Rays to the postseason in 2011 and then hit three in 2012. This year, he helped his team make the postseason again with a dramatic shot. Despite the heroics, Miguel Cabrera is once again the All Major League Baseball Team’s third baseman. Here is the 2013 squad:
First Base: Chris Davis (Baltimore) Chris Davis showed occasional signs of greatness, but nothing like what he accomplished in 2013. He played in a career best 160 games and dominated American League pitching. Davis hit 53 home runs, drove in 138 runs, scored 103 times, slugged .634, and posted a 1.004 OPS. He led the league in home runs, RBI, and total bases (370). If Miguel Cabrera does not win the MVP, then Davis should.
Second Base: Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) Cano is the premier second baseman in baseball. He played in 160 games for the fifth time in nine campaigns, hit 27 home runs, knocked in 107, hit .314, scored 81 runs, slugged .516, had a .383 OBP, posted a .899 OPS, and made his fifth All Star team. It was the third time Cano knocked in 100 or more runs, the fifth time he hit 25 or more long balls, and his seventh .300 season.
Third Base: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) The defending American League MVP should win the award again in 2013. Cabrera won his third straight batting title. The last Tiger with three straight was Ty Cobb and the last right handed batter with three in a row was Rogers Hornsby. Overall, he paced the American League in average (.348), OBP (.442), slugging (.636), and OPS (1.078). Additionally, Cabrera scored 103 runs, had 193 hits, 26 doubles, 44 home runs, and 137 RBI.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado) Tulo is the favorite to win National League comeback player of the year. He appeared in 126 games in 2013 as opposed to 47 in 2012. The shortstop hit .312 with 25 home runs, 82 RBI, and .931 OPS in 446 at bats. It was his third .300 season and the fifth time he topped 20 homers in a season.
Catcher: Yadier Molina (St. Louis) People used to only talk about Molina’s glove. Now, they have to mention his bat. The catcher has hit .300 in three consecutive seasons, and four overall, after his .319 campaign. Molina hit 12 home runs and knocked in a career best 80 with a .836 OPS. The Cardinal made his fifth consecutive All Star team and will likely win his sixth consecutive Gold Glove.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (Boston) Big Papi is closing in on Cooperstown. Once again, he posted All Star numbers for the Red Sox. Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI. The DH had his best home run total since 2010 and the most RBI since 2007. As a result, he led the league with 27 intentional walks. Ortiz remains a major force within the Boston lineup.
Left Field: Mike Trout (Anaheim) Mike Trout had an amazing rookie campaign. He did not suffer a sophomore slump in 2013. The outfielder led the league in runs (109) for the second consecutive year and also paced the AL in walks (110). On top of this, he topped his 2012 totals in hits (190), doubles (39), triples (9), RBI (97), OBP (.432), and OPS (.988). Trout also clubbed 27 home runs, stole 33 bases, slugged .557, and hit .323. The second year star accomplished this with little offensive firepower around him. Lastly, Trout remains the league’s top defender at his position.
Center Field-Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) “The Cutch” should win the NL MVP in 2013. He led the Pirates to their first winning season and first playoff appearance since 1992. The Gold Glover batted .317 with 21 home runs, 84 RBI, scored 971 and stole 27 bases. McCutchen’s .911 OPS is the second best of his career. He set career bests in doubles (38) and OBP (.404). He is the best, most dynamic player on a tough Pirates squad.
Right Field Michael Cuddyer (Colorado) Michael Cuddyer is a young 34. He won his first batting title with a .331 average in 2013. Cuddyer led the Colorado offense as those around him fell to injuries and he responded. The outfielder set career highs in average, slugging (.530), OBP (.389), and OPS (.919). At the same time, the second year Rockie had 31 doubles, 20 home runs, 84 RBI, and 10 stolen bases.
Bench: Evan Gattis (Atlanta) Evan Gattis is baseball’s best story of 2013. The rookie worked as a parking valet, ski-lift operator, pizza maker, and janitor before returning to baseball. He played 105 games for the Braves and hit 21 home runs and knocked in 65. The 26-year-old might supplant All Star Brian McCann for the starting catcher’s position in 2014.
RHP: Max Scherzer (Detroit) Max Scherzer has increased his win totals every season he has been in the big leagues. In 2013, he paced the American League with 21 wins and 0.970 WHIP. Scherzer finished fifth in ERA at 2.90 and struck out a career high 240 batters and pitched more innings, 214.1, than any prior season. He finished 21-3 overall and set the Tiger all-time record for win percentage in a season with an AL best .875. The likely Cy Young winner capped the season off by replacing Justin Verlander at the head of the Detroit rotation for the playoffs.
LHP: Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) “The Claw” has led the NL in ERA three consecutive seasons. The frontrunner for the Cy Young finished with a career best 1.83 ERA and 16-9 record. He also topped the NL in shutouts (2), strikeouts (232), and WHIP (0.915) just two seasons removed from his Triple Crown spectacular in 2011. Some have even touted Kershaw for MVP. However, his record will probably prevent that from happening.
Set up: Koji Uehara (Boston) Koji Uehara flashed signs of potential earlier in his career, but no one expected greatness at 38. He pitched so well that Boston made Uehara the closer. He went 21-for-24 in save opportunities, but also qualified for 13 holds. Overall, Uehara finished 4-1 with a remarkable 1.09 ERA and ridiculous 0.565 WHIP. He allowed only 33 hits and 7 unintentional walks in 74.1 innings of work.
Closer- Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta) Kimbrel is devastating. Atlanta’s closer experienced another incredible year for the NL East champions. He went 4-3 with 1.21 ERA, 0.881 WHIP, and led the league with 50 saves. He only experienced four blown saves all season and limited hitters to 39 hits in 67 innings. The former Rookie of the Year made his third consecutive All Star team and has a potential to win a Cy Young sometime in the future.
Closer Emeritus- Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees) The great Mariano Rivera retired after 19 Major League seasons with the New York Yankees. Rivera is the greatest closer in history and holds the record for career saves (652) and games finished (952). In 2013, he saved 44 contests in 51 chances. Although he showed signs of being a mere mortal, Rivera still had a solid 1.047 WHIP and 2.11 ERA in 64 innings pitched. His season, and career, ended on an emotional note when long time teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettite visited him on the mound to make a pitching change. Rivera broke down as the enormity of the moment overtook him and everyone watching.