At the end of every baseball season, the MVP and Cy Young voting do a reasonable job of distinguishing the elite of the elite in Major League Baseball. In terms of a position-by-position breakdown, though, the sport's only recognition comes from All-Star voting in the middle of the year. Following their seasons, the NFL offers an All-Pro team and the NBA names an All-NBA team. Baseball does no such thing.
Since there's no good reason for that gap, we took it upon ourselves to solicit the input of media members from around the country and name ESPN's first All-MLB team -- something we expect to be an annual happening. Sixty-eight people participated in the voting, choosing first-, second- and third-team players at 10 positions. Every player was assigned a specific position to cut down on cross-positional voting. A first-team vote was worth 5 points, a second-team vote 3 points and a third-team vote 1 point. Only two players -- American League MVP Mike Trout and AL Cy Young runner-up Gerrit Cole -- were unanimous first-team choices.
Here are the results, along with a chance for you to vote for your choice at each position:
ESPN's All-MLB First Team
SP: Gerrit Cole*, Houston Astros
20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326 K's
SP: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
11-8, 2.43 ERA, 255 K's
SP: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
18-6, 3.32 ERA, 251 K's
SP: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
21-6, 2.58 ERA, 300 K's
RP: Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
37 SV, 2.21 ERA, 13.4 K/9
RP: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
37 SV, 2.62 ERA, 16.4 K/9
RP: Liam Hendriks, Oakland Athletics
25 SV, 1.80 ERA, 13.1 K/9
RP: Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
30 SV, 2.61 ERA, 11.7 K/9
(* = unanimous first-team selection)
ESPN's All-MLB Second Team
C: Yasmani Grandal, Milwaukee Brewers
.246 AVG, 28 HR, 2.5 WAR
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
.295 AVG, 38 HR, 4.4 WAR
2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
.298 AVG, 31 HR, 3.7 WAR
3B: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
.319 AVG, 34 HR, 6.3 WAR
OF: Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves
.280 AVG, 41 HR, 5.5 WAR
OF: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
.295 AVG, 29 HR, 6.8 WAR
OF: George Springer, Houston Astros
.292 AVG, 39 HR, 6.2 WAR
DH: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
.313 AVG, 27 HR, 3.7 WAR
UT: Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
.251 AVG, 35 HR, 5.7 WAR
SP: Zack Greinke, Houston Astros
18-5, 2.93 ERA, 187 K's
SP: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
14-5, 2.32 ERA, 163 K's
RP: Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays
1 SV, 3.32 ERA, 15.2 K/9
RP: Seth Lugo, New York Mets
6 SV, 2.70 ERA, 11.7 K/9
RP: Brandon Workman, Boston Red Sox
16 SV, 1.88 ERA, 13.1 K/9
ESPN's All-MLB Third Team
C: Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
.275 AVG, 31 HR, 4.0 WAR
1B: Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics
.267 AVG, 36 HR, 5.1 WAR
2B: Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals
.285 AVG, 11 HR, 4.7 WAR
SS: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
.294 AVG, 35 HR, 6.4 WAR
OF: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
.260 AVG, 35 HR, 4.2 WAR
OF: Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
.282 AVG, 34 HR, 4.7 WAR
DH: J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox
.304 AVG, 36 HR, 3.3 WAR
UT: Howie Kendrick, Washington Nationals
.344 AVG, 17 HR, 2.6 WAR
SP: Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
14-4, 3.26 ERA, 215 K's
SP: Patrick Corbin, Washington Nationals
14-7, 3.25 ERA, 238 K's
SP: Mike Soroka. Atlanta Braves
13-4, 2.68 ERA, 142 K's
RP: Zack Britton, New York Yankees
3 SV, 1.91 ERA, 7.8 K/9
RP: Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians
34 SV, 3.30 ERA, 13.2 K/9
RP: Will Harris, Houston Astros
4 SV, 1.50 ERA, 9.3 K/9
RP: Roberto Osuna, Houston Astros
38 SV, 2.63 ERA, 10.1 K/9
RP: Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels
23 SV, 2.48 ERA, 9.3 K/9
1st: J.T. Realmuto
2nd: Yasmani Grandal
3rd: Mitch Garver
The first- and second-team choices of the Phillies' J.T. Realmuto (49 first-team votes) and the Brewers' Yasmani Grandal were overwhelming. The Twins' Mitch Garver was awarded for his tremendous offensive season and buoyed by 28 third-team votes.
ESPN Stats & Information says: J.T. Realmuto posted 9.48 Catcher Fielding Runs Above Average, the fifth-highest total of the decade (best since Salvador Pérez had 10.79 FldRAA in 2016). He also led all primary catchers with 64 extra-base hits and ranked among the top five (minimum 300 plate appearances) in batting average (.275, fourth) and slugging percentage (.493, fourth).
1st: Pete Alonso
2nd: Freddie Freeman
3rd: Matt Olson
The Mets' Pete Alonso ran away with the voting, appearing on 66 of 68 ballots and gathering 45 first-team votes. In a late surge, Oakland's Matt Olson won third-team honors by one point.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Poor Carlos Santana. The Cleveland first baseman looked like the sure third-teamer. He actually got more votes than Olson (26 to 23). But Olson's three first-place votes gave him 47 points to Santana's 46.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Alonso might have gotten all the headlines for breaking the home run record for rookies, but Freeman closed out a full decade in the league by belting a career-best 38 long balls. Freeman (227, tied for 20th) cracks the top 20 across MLB for homers in the 2010s, despite never hitting 40 home runs in a single season.
1st: Ozzie Albies
2nd: Jose Altuve
3rd: Kolten Wong
Positional classification skewed this vote. With Ketel Marte at outfield, Gleyber Torres at shortstop, and DJ LeMahieu and Max Muncy at utility, voters went with Atlanta's Ozzie Albies, Houston's Jose Altuve and St. Louis' Kolten Wong.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Honestly, nobody. There's a reasonable argument that if Marte, Torres, LeMahieu and Muncy weren't so versatile, none of the three second basemen would have even been on the team.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Albies showed power from both sides of the plate in 2019, hitting 13 homers left-handed (54% of his 24) and 11 right-handed (46% of his 24). Over the past 20 seasons, only one other switch-hitter has had at least 20 home runs and that close of a split: In both 2011 and 2013, Matt Wieters hit 22 homers, 11 from each side of the plate.
1st: Alex Bregman
2nd: Anthony Rendon
3rd: Nolan Arenado
Houston's Alex Bregman matched Oakland's Marcus Semien with 55 first-team votes, Washington's Anthony Rendon was even better than Boston's Xander Bogaerts with 49 second-team tallies, and a few late first-place votes pushed Colorado's Nolan Arenado onto the third team.
Who got snubbed or just missed? What late voting giveth to one Matt in Oakland, late voting taketh away from another. Matt Chapman was primed to give the A's three-quarters of their infield on the All-MLB team ... and instead, he settled for a fourth-place finish.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Bregman and Rendon became just the sixth pair of third basemen in MLB history to each post an OPS north of 1.000 (the previous pair to do so was Chipper Jones and Alex Rodríguez in 2007).
1st: Marcus Semien
2nd: Xander Bogaerts
3rd: Trevor Story
Oakland's Marcus Semien was an overwhelming first-team choice with 55 votes, Boston's Xander Bogaerts received more than half the second-team votes, and Colorado's Trevor Story easily outpaced the rest of the field.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Francisco Lindor is the third Cleveland player already to finish fourth. Ouch. Special mention: Gleyber Torres, the Yankees' dynamic 22-year-old, played 12 more games and 112 more innings at shortstop than he did at second -- and the positional depth here got him.
ESPN Stats & Information says: It was an incredibly deep season for MLB shortstops. Eleven primary shortstops posted season WAR totals of 4.0 or higher, the most in any season in MLB history. Those 11 include Semien (8.1), Bogaerts (5.2) and Story (6.4).
1st: Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich
2nd: Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts, George Springer
3rd: Bryce Harper, Ketel Marte, Juan Soto
The easiest category of all. The Angels' Mike Trout (68 of 68 votes), the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (63 of 68) and the Brewers' Christian Yelich (59 of 68) dominated. Arizona's Ketel Marte received more second-team votes than Houston's George Springer but lagged behind in total votes, separating the two.
Who got snubbed or just missed? The Yankees' Aaron Judge was the 10th man on a nine-man unit. He received one first-team vote, two second-team and a dozen third-team. The volume of Bryce Harper's supporters -- one second-team and 26 third-team -- edged out Judge.
ESPN Stats & Information says: All but one of these outfielders were in their 20s for the entirety of the 2019 season (Springer turned 30 in September). Youth is the theme of this group from top to bottom.
• Mike Trout became the second-youngest player to win three MVP awards (only Stan Musial was younger at the time of his third award).
• Cody Bellinger became the fourth player to win MVP, Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove before turning 25.
• Ronald Acuña Jr. became the youngest player in MLB history to have 40 homers and 30 stolen bases in a single season.
• Juan Soto's 56 home runs before his 21st birthday is tied for second in MLB history (only Mel Ott has more, at 61).
1st: Nelson Cruz
2nd: Yordan Alvarez
3rd: J.D. Martinez
Bomba Squad captain Nelson Cruz dominated with 53 first-team votes. Houston's Yordan Alvarez joined Alonso as the only rookies on the offensive side of the All-MLB team, while Boston's J.D. Martinez sat comfortably in third place.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Lead the AL with 48 home runs, and the reward for Kansas City's Jorge Soler is ... a fourth-place finish. He did get one first-team vote, as did the Angels' Shohei Ohtani.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Fourteen times in the designated hitter era (since 1973) a player has slugged at least .600 in a season as a primary DH (minimum 300 at-bats). Yordan Alvarez (22 years old) was the youngest ever to do it, and Nelson Cruz (now 39) was the second-oldest, behind only David Ortiz (40 in 2016).
1st: DJ LeMahieu
2nd: Max Muncy
3rd: Howie Kendrick
The Yankees' DJ LeMahieu got 58 first-team votes and appeared on 66 ballots. The Dodgers' Max Muncy was nearly as clear a second-team lock, with 52 votes there. A pair of first-team votes helped secure Washington's Howie Kendrick the third-team spot.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Third-team utility man voting was wild. Everyone on the ballot except LeMahieu received at least one third-team vote. The closest to Kendrick: St. Louis rookie Tommy Edman, who appeared on 23 of 68 ballots.
ESPN Stats & Information says: DJ LeMahieu and Max Muncy were two of only three players this past season who played at least 30 games at three different infield positions (the other was David Fletcher of the Angels). According to Elias Sports Bureau research, LeMahieu became the first player to do that while hitting .300 with 20 home runs. Muncy, meanwhile, became the first player to do it while hitting 35 home runs.
1st: Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander
2nd: Shane Bieber, Jack Flaherty, Zack Greinke, Charlie Morton, Hyun-Jin Ryu
3rd: Walker Buehler, Patrick Corbin, Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Mike Soroka
There was unanimity on the Astros' Gerrit Cole and near-first-team-consensus on the Mets' Jacob deGrom (66 of 68) and Justin Verlander (65 of 68). Two Nationals starters, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, were far ahead of the rest of the group, too.
Who got snubbed or just missed? There was intrigue at the back end of the second team. Cleveland's Shane Bieber (115 points) and Houston's Zack Greinke (114 points) are on the second team, Texas' Lance Lynn (112 points) is a third-teamer. The final three cuts: the Rangers' Mike Minor, the Reds' Sonny Gray and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Volume is more scarce than ever with starting pitching. Just 15 pitchers threw at least 200 innings this past season, tied for the second-fewest in a non-strike-shortened season in the modern era (since 1900). That's down from 34 such pitchers just five years ago in 2014.
1st: Aroldis Chapman, Josh Hader, Liam Hendriks, Taylor Rogers, Kirby Yates
2nd: Nick Anderson, Ken Giles, Seth Lugo, Will Smith, Brandon Workman
3rd: Zack Britton, Brad Hand, Will Harris, Roberto Osuna, Hansel Robles
San Diego's Kirby Yates was the closest to unanimous, with 67 of 68 first-team votes (and one third-team vote). Milwaukee's Josh Hader, Oakland's Liam Hendriks, the Yankees' Aroldis Chapman and late-surging Minnesota closer Taylor Rogers round out the first team.
Who got snubbed or just missed? Pour one out for the Mets' Seth Lugo, who looked like a first-teamer until Rogers bumped him. But save some for the Rays' Emilio Pagan. He was in third-team position when the value of first-team votes pushed the Yankees' Zack Britton ahead of him. Other just-misses: the Cardinals' Giovanny Gallegos and the Yankees' Adam Ottavino.
ESPN Stats & Information says: Eight pitchers struck out at least 100 batters in relief this past season, tied for the most in a season in MLB history. Josh Hader led the way with 138 strikeouts, the most ever by a pitcher who also allowed 15 or more home runs in relief.