It was a long year in Detroit. The Tigers struggled to a last place record at 74-87. Despite this, Miguel Cabrera won his fourth batting title in five seasons with a .338 average. Unfortunately, injuries limited Cabrera’s playing time to 119 games. As a result, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt replaced Cabrera on the All-MLB team. In baseball, youth is king. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Xander Boegaerts, and Jake Arrieta are all young superstars. Some old timers, like David Ortiz, keep rolling, but baseball is becoming a kid’s game once more. Of the 13 players listed below, only two are over 30 years of age. This change has filtered into the playoffs as young Cubs and Astros teams have joined the postseason tournament seemingly ahead of schedule. The following is the All MLB team for 2015.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt (AZ)
27-year-old Paul Goldschmidt evolved into a superstar over the past three seasons. Two years removed from his breakout season, the Arizona first baseman has entered his prime. In 2015, Goldy hit 33 home runs, knocked in 110 runs, and totaled 323 total bases. He set career highs in batting average (.321), stolen bases (21), walks (118), OBP (.435), slugging (.570), and OPS (1.005) while matching career bests with 103 runs and 182 hits. On top of this, Goldschmidt led the league with 29 intentional walks.
Second Base: Dee Gordon (MIA)
Like Goldschmidt, Dee Gordon entered his age 27 season in 2015. That is where the comparison between the two ends. Gordon plays the speed game and led the league with 58 stolen bases. The Marlin also won his first batting title with a .333 average and led the league with 205 hits. In his second full season as a starer, Gordon set career highs in hits, average, home runs (4), RBI (46), OBP (.359), slugging (.418), total bases (257), and OPS (.776). He proved a bright spot in a dark Miami Marlin season.
Third Base: Josh Donaldson (TOR)
While Gordon and Goldschmidt are just entering their prime, Josh Donaldson is peaking. The likely AL MVP put together a career year in Toronto. He set career highs in runs (122), hits (184), doubles (41), home runs (41), RBI (123), slugging (.568), OPS (.939), sacrifice flies (10), and total bases (352). Donaldson led the league in runs, RBI, total bases, and sacrifice flies while coming up big for the Blue Jays in key moments.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
If Boston contended in 2015, Xander Boegaerts might have challenged Donaldson for MVP. The Boston shortstop is at the forefront of baseball’s youth movement. In his second full season, the 22-year-old performed extremely well in the Boston pressure cooker. Boegaerts batted .320 with seven home runs, 81 RBI, 196 hits, and .776 OPS. If he continues to improve, Boegaerts will be the American League’s premier shortstop for the next decade.
Left Field: Yoenis Cespedes (DET/NYM)
Yoenis Cespedes played with Xander Boegaerts in Boston in 2014. He moved to Detroit for his fourth Major League campaign, but the Tigers traded the outfielder to the New York Mets for the stretch run. Cespedes blasted 17 home runs in just 57 games in New York to enter the MVP discussion. His impact transformed the lethargic New York offense and propelled the Mets to the postseason. Overall, the Cuban native batted .291 with 35 home runs, 105 RBI, 101 runs scored, 184 hits, 42 doubles, 343 total bases, and .870 OPS.
Center Field: Mike Trout (ANA)
Like Cespedes, Mike Trout played his fourth full season in 2015. Some believe he should have won the MVP award every season from 2011-2014. They argue that advanced statistical analysis indicates that Trout was the best player in the game for 2015 as well. The 23-year-old batted .299 with 104 runs, 41 home runs, 91 RBI, 32 doubles, .402 OBP, 339 total bases, and a league leading .590 slugging. Trout also led the league in OPS (.991).
Right Field: Bryce Harper (WAS)
Bryce Harper is the National League version of Mike Trout. The 22-year-old batted .330 and led the league in runs (118), home runs (42), OBP (.460), slugging (.649), and OPS (1.109). Harper added 172 hits, 38 doubles, 99 RBI, 338 total bases, and 124 walks. Although Washington struggled in 2015, Harper’s performance may lead to an unanimous NL MVP award.
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Harper and Trout are the future while Big Papi is a link to the past. David Ortiz is past his prime, but remains the preeminent designated hitter in baseball. Boston’s dangerous offensive force led the league in intentional walks with 16. Overall, Ortiz batted .273 with 37 home runs, 108 RBI, and .913 OPS.
Bench: David Murphy (CLE/ANA)
Like Ortiz, David Murphy is over 30 years old. The 33-year-old left handed batter hit .283 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI. He proved especially effective off the bench in 2015. As a pinch hitter, Murphy batted .314 with three home runs, nine RBI, and .906 OPS.
RHP: Jake Arrieta (CHC)
David Murphy has a .300 career average against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. From the 2015 All Star break through the end of the season, very few batters hit Arrieta with any authority. The righthander surrendered only nine earned runs in the second half. Over that span, he no-hit the Dodgers, won pitcher-of-the-month honors for August and September, and scored a 0.43 ERA for August and 0.45 in September. Arrieta’s second half run was the greatest in Major League history. Overall, he posted a 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA, 0.865 WHIP, and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings. Arrieta led the league in wins, game starts (33), complete games (4), shutouts (3), and hits per 9 innings (5.9).
LHP: Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
Like Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw knows something about historic seasons. The three-time Cy Young winner won the Triple Crown in 2011 and the MVP in 2014. In 2015, he became the first pitcher to top 300 strikeouts in a season since 2002 with 301. He also led the league with 232.2 innings pitched and matched Arrieta with four complete games and three shutouts. Overall, Kershaw finished 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA.
Setup: Tony Watson (PIT)
Kershaw and Arrieta grab the headlines, but teams need players like Tony Watson to win games. The Pirate reliever made the All Star team in 2014. He did not return to the game in 2015, but proved effective. He finished the season 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA, and 0.956 WHIP. In 77 games, Watson pitched 75.1 innings and struck out 62.
Closer: Mark Melancon (PIT)
Watson often set up Mark Melancon to close out games. Melancon led baseball with 51 saves in 53 chances for a 96% save percentage. Overall, the righty went 3-2 with a 2.23 ERA, and 0.926 WHIP in 76.2 innings. In a different season, Melancon might have won the Cy Young Award. However, Arrieta, Kershaw, and Zach Grienke will probably finish ahead of the Pirate.