Just about a year ago, John launched this website, and I wrote about my last Cardinal game as a Missourian. Since that post, I’ve moved to the East Coast, and – having cut the cable cord long ago – have been resorting to Reddit streams to get my regular dose of St. Louis and Missouri sports.
That is, before I signed up for MLB.TV.
The service, run by the league in cooperation with local television and radio partners, allows subscribers to watch and listen to broadcasts of all 30 MLB teams, and it’s been a godsend for this native Midwesterner. My summer days were often spent listening to Mike Shannon in my earbuds at work or heading to a bar or friend’s house to catch the Cardinals on local TV. As it would happen though, KMOX and Fox Sports Midwest don’t carry all the way out here, so MLB.TV has been a revelation so far in this young season.
Signing up for the service got me thinking about articles I’ve seen on other websites in the past, namely with NBA All-Access – what if you could draft a roster made up of the team’s you’d most like to watch? That’s what we – John, Alex, Mike and I – will be tackling this week. The rules are simple: draft the team you’d be most likely to watch if you had access to all 30 teams. We’ll try to set our biases aside, but no guarantees.
We’re operating under fantasy football snake draft rules, going alphabetically by last name. Mike, you’re on the board.
Round 1, Pick 1: Mike picks the Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are probably the most well-rounded team in baseball, which makes them an easy choice for the #1 pick. The lineup is stacked with young talent like Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, there are plenty of good pitchers even with Clayton Kershaw’s decline and it’s generally a safe bet to assume that the offense will put up 5+ runs a night. Just, uh, bring a book or something in case Pedro Baez is called on to pitch. — Mike
Round 1, Pick 2: Alex picks the San Diego Padres
Phenom and heir to the man who hit two grand slams in one inning off the same pitcher has been set free, and although he’s striking out a lot – as you’d expect from a 20-year-old – he’s also hitting the crap out of the ball. Throw in Machado, Paddack, and the most underrated ballpark in MLB and this team is set to be very fun for a very long time. Only downside is that I used to live in San Diego and watching a lot of Padres games would be a constant reminder that I no longer live in San Diego. — Alex
Round 1, Pick 3: John picks the Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have taken it upon themselves over the last two off-seasons to dominate the “acquiring exciting and fun position players” market. Last off-season, they signed Yasmani Grandal, a favorite of stat nerds everywhere, after signing inherently exciting center fielder Lorenzo Cain and trading for burgeoning slugger Christian Yelich the winter before. But the real hallmark of the Brewers is the hyper-modernity of their bullpen—they possess a relentless attack of flamethrowers and have no qualms about going to them early. There are better teams than the Brewers, but few succeed in a more interesting way than the Brewers. — John
Round 1, Pick 4: Josh picks the Philadelphia Phillies
Honestly, this might have been pick if I were choosing number one overall and it rests almost completely on the lineup – though Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez are exciting in their own right. It may not be the best in the league, but it’s incredibly stacked with players who are talented, fun to watch and (in my humble opinion) very likable. You try watching a game with Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper and Odubel Herrera (among others) and tell me you’re not having fun. — Josh
Round 2, Pick 1: Josh picks the Houston Astros
I’m going to capitalize on these snake draft rules and take the team that is, in all likelihood, still the best in baseball. Verlander-Cole-Miley is a dynamite combo for pitching aesthetics, and seven of their nine lineup mainstays have All-Star-to-MVP ceilings. And as stupid as it is, the short porch in left field is also hilarious, especially when the Stros are bombing it with line drives and mighty fly balls.
Round 2, Pick 2: John picks the Los Angeles Angels
When you have an opportunity to draft the best player of his generation, and one of the best players ever, it’s hard to pass. The Angels admittedly have a somewhat thin roster in terms of being fun, but Mike Trout is quite the headliner. The looming presence of Shohei Ohtani as a designated hitter rather than as a two-way player hurts his stock somewhat, but in 2019, we will get a chance to see just how offensively potent he can be if he really focuses on it. Oh, and they have the arguably the most exciting defensive player to watch in the sport in shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Round 2, Pick 3: Alex picks the Chicago White Sox
I’m cheating here because I’m not supposed to bring in my own biases and what not, but since I almost exclusively watch the Cardinals, an American League team is fun by default. It means observing a bunch of teams and players who I don’t see on a regular basis, and with the White Sox, I get to watch young hitters like Jimenéz and Moncada develop, see if Giolito can figure things out, etc.. With a lousy AL Central, who knows – maybe this team can find a way to win 75-78 games. Also: Guaranteed Rate Park is great. Don’t allow anyone to say otherwise. [Editor’s note: Alex is correct here.]
Round 2, Pick 4: Mike picks the Boston Red Sox
Another team loaded with exciting young talent like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox are coming off a 108-win season and a World Series championship and shouldn’t be slowing down anytime soon. The young guys are complemented with veterans like Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez, and they play in historic Fenway Park. What’s not to like?
Round 3, Pick 1: Mike picks the Washington Nationals
Earlier this week, scientists discovered the existence of the first supermassive black hole… but enough about Trevor Rosenthal. Even without Bryce Harper, the Nats are still a good, fun team with a deep roster. The Mizzou grad in me is obligated to keep tabs on Max Scherzer’s career no matter where he goes, but with Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin behind him, along with a lineup that features Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon, this team is still a title contender.
Round 3, Pick 2: Alex picks the Atlanta Braves
It’s early but Dansby Swanson looks… really good so far? Along with Acuña, Albies, probably someone else I’m missing, Atlanta might have the most fun group of young players in baseball. And Freddie Freeman probably rivals Paul Goldschmidt as one of the best athletes in sports with the lowest Q-score.
Round 3, Pick 3: John picks the New York Yankees
I am generally averse to the modern baseball offense—one built around guys just trying to belt as many dingers as possible and striking out a third of the time. But if you’re going to implement this strategically optimal – but often aesthetically unpleasing – style, you might as well be the best at it. No two guys are more pleasing to watch do this than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and they’re teammates. They have one of the best bullpens in the game, and while all good and decent people root against Aroldis Chapman, there is something undeniably compelling about watching him pitch. Hate-watchable is still watchable for me.
Round 3, Pick 4: Josh picks the Tampa Bay Rays
The Tommy Pham factor is strong – only half-kidding. Kevin Kiermaier is always prone to do something crazy and Ji-Man Choi has sneaky Large Adult Son potential. The big reason I think this pick is great though? Their rotation consists of three must-watch pitchers for very different reasons, and they’re leaning hard into the “opener” strategy. I don’t know that I agree with it, but as a baseball fanatic, I can’t peel my eyes away.
Round 4, Pick 1: Josh picks the St. Louis Cardinals
I really considered going with the A’s here, but I could only hold off for so long. As much as we mock #YoungPitchingDepth, the Cardinals do boast a treasure trove of pitchers who could end up everywhere from the scrap heap to the top of the rotation, which is terrifying for me as a fan, but fascinating as an observer. While Paul Goldschmidt may not be the most aesthetically pleasing superstar, he’s still a great hitter. There are also a lot of aesthetically pleasing parts – Matt Carpenter doubles and walks; O’Neill and Ozuna’s epic dingers; Bader and Wong’s defense; salty, old Yadi – that make the Cardinals a team I’d keep an eye on even if I wasn’t born in the Lou.
Round 4, Pick 2: John picks the Minnesota Twins
If every baseball player played like Willians Astudillo, the famously three-true-outcomes-averse catcher/utilityman, the world would be a much better place. He has taken the title of Baseball Twitter’s favorite player from Bartolo Colon while being infinitely more personally likable in the process. While anybody other than Astudillo is a clear step down in terms of fun, he isn’t a one-man team in that regard: it is still exhilarating to watch Nelson Cruz crush baseballs, and although he is largely Cruz’s opposite in terms of style and skill set, Byron Buxton is a pleasure to watch in center field even when his bat isn’t quite all there.
Round 4, Pick 3: Alex picks the Oakland A’s
Read this article about the new Catalina Club at Wrigley and tell me you don’t appreciate a dump like the Oakland Coliseum. Not sure if this should even count as fun, but there’s something I find aesthetically pleasing about one the last ballparks in MLB which offers nothing but, well, baseball. It’s refreshing. And watching Matt Chapman at third is worth the price of admission and I miss Stephen Piscotty and just enjoy watching him do well. Go A’s.
Round 4, Pick 4: Mike picks the Cleveland Indians
Cleveland is still a fun bunch when everyone is healthy. The Indians do benefit from being able to feast on four bad teams that make up the AL Central, but the duo of Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez, plus Corey Kluber coming out of the rotation still makes for some fun baseball by the Cuyahoga.
Thanks for reading, y’all. We’ll be back with rounds 5-7 (plus a few relegation picks), later this week.