With the All-Star Game right around the corner, I thought that it would be fun to share my AS team selections. Oh, you thought that “AS” meant “All-Star”…no, no, no. When I said “AS”, I meant All-Small! You know, a team compiled of the best MLB players that would require parental supervision to ride a roller coaster. Think about it as the All-Star team, but for the shortest and strongest.
As someone who was always the shortest player on their Little League team, this group holds a special place in my heart. The players that qualify for this team are proof that it doesn’t matter how tall you are, you can still be elite at the major league level.
Before I reveal my selections, let’s talk about the requirements to make it onto the All-Small team.
- The very obvious and most important requirement is that a player must be under 6 feet tall in height. We can’t have any Empire-State-Building-Burj-Khalifa-Aaron-Judge-Telephone-Pole-Look-Alike type of players infiltrating our group of Short Kings. If your height doesn’t begin with a 5 or less – you’re out.
- Next, to make this team, you have to be a current MLB player as we will be making these selections based on their performance this season. We can always come up with an all-time All-Small team, but for now, they have to be currently playing. Sorry, Willie Mays.
- Lastly, there will only be nine total players that are selected for this team. We’ll be choosing one: Catcher, First, Second and Third basemen, Shortstop, Left, Center, and Right fielder as well as a Starting Pitcher.
To keep things short, I present to you…The All-Small Team!
Alejandro Kirk (C)
Coming in at 5′ 8″ from the Blue Jays, our starting catcher – Alejandro Kirk!
It was a known fact that Kirk could hit as well as anyone in the league. Across four seasons in the minors, he had a .318 batting average and a .416 on-base percentage. Until this year, we haven’t seen Kirk show off those skills in the majors. Granted, he’s only played 69 games in the big leagues before the 2022 season, so he hasn’t had much time to flourish. However, that’s exactly what he’s doing right now.
The 23-year-old catcher has a .322 batting average, a .409 on-base percentage, and a .523 slugging percentage. He’s hit ten home runs, and ten doubles and has driven in 31 runs in just 199 at-bats this season. Kirk has actually walked (29) more times than he’s struck out (23), which is backed by his 98th percentile K% and 89th percentile BB%. All he does is make contact.
Defensively, he’s been one of the best at his position. Kirk places in the 94th percentile in framing. With a 3.2 WAR, the highest of any catcher this season, it’s obvious why this short slugger is the starting catcher on the All-Small team.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Max Stassi (5’10”).
Ty France (1B)
This 27-year-old Seattle small-fry has had an incredible start to the season. Okay, he’s not that small, he only just makes the cut for this team. However, coming off of an impressive first full season in 2021, France deserves the nod for what he’s been doing this season. He currently has a .316 batting average, .390 on-base percentage, and a .476 slugging percentage. Alongside that beautiful slash-line, he’s hit 10 home runs and driven in 45 runs.
The only first baseman with a higher WAR than France (3.0) this season is Paul Goldschmidt (3.9), who is a giant, coming in at 6’3″. Goldy couldn’t dream of being on the All-Small team!
France might just be one of the most underrated players this season and that’s why he makes this coveted team.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Carlos Santana (5’11”).
Jazz Chisholm Jr. (2B)
The miniature Marlin fish that’s cooler than the bottom of your doggie’s water dish has been absolutely electric this season. In 2021, the now-24-year-old flashed a power and speed combination that made our eyes pop out of our heads. Jazz has continued to do that this season. Chisholm has a .255 batting average, a .326 on-base percentage, and a .538 slugging percentage so far in 2022. With an .864 OPS and WAR of 2.6, he’s clearly improving on the impressive numbers that he put up last season.
Jazz has an astounding 14 home runs, 12 stolen bases, 38 runs, and 45 RBI in just 57 games. It’s not surprising since he places in the 95th percentile in Barrel% and 96th percentile in Sprint Speed. Those numbers put him on pace for a 30-30 (HR-SB) season. Now that might not happen due to his current struggles against left-handed pitching, but I wouldn’t bet against Jazz. There’s nothing small about his ability or personality. That’s why he’s the starting second baseman for the All-Small team!
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Jose Altuve (5’6″).
José Ramírez (3B)
José is overlooked each and every year. You can literally overlook him because of his height, as well as overlook the fact that Ramírez is one of the best players in all of baseball. In his career, he’s a 3-time All-Star, a 3-time Silver Slugger and he’s received MVP votes (finishing as high as 2nd in 2020) in 5 of 6 years in which he played a full season. That’s an extremely impressive resume, especially for someone that is 5’9″.
As for this season, Ramírez continues to produce at the highest level. Through 65 games, he’s got a .303 batting average, a .388 on-base percentage, and a .618 slugging percentage. José has also hit 16 home runs, stolen 12 bases, struck out (22) fewer times than he’s walked (34), and has an American League-leading 63 runs batted in.
With a 1.006 OPS and a 3.1 WAR this year, it’s not a shock that the 29-year-old “Enriquito” is holding down the hot corner for the team.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Luis Arraez (5’10”).
Tommy Edman (SS)
The player that Edman is, would be the player that I think I would have been if I had made it to the majors. We’re about the same height. He’s fast, I’m fast. Tommy’s good at making contact, I was good at making contact. He looks like he’s 12, I look like I’m 12. Tommy has won a Gold Glove Award, my glove was a golden brown color. It’s a perfect comparison. However, Tommy is an elite major league baseball player and I’m writing about how Tommy is an elite major league baseball player.
In the 2022 season, Edman picked up exactly where he left off in 2021. He’s actually made tangible changes that have led to such a successful season so far. During Spring Training, Edman wanted to change how he reacted with his upper body so that he could reach inside pitches more easily. He was trying to figure out the ideal launch angle and repeat it until it felt natural. Hence why he struggled during spring. That change seems to have paid off, leading to Tommy increasing his Barrel % by 2.4%. He’s also improved his average exit velocity from the 20th percentile last season to the 43rd percentile this year.
He’s hit 7 home runs, stolen 17 bases while only getting caught twice, and continues to play Gold Glove-caliber defense. With a 4.4 WAR, the highest in MLB from a position player this season, this rising star doesn’t come up short at shortstop.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Jorge Polanco (5’11”).
Andrew Benintendi (LF)
Benintendi might not be in the midst of a mind-blowing season like some of his All-Small teammates, but he’s been great this season.
With a K% in the 89th percentile, Benintendi has become an excellent contact hitter leading to a .295 batting average this season. He’s only hit three home runs and stolen 1 base so far but he’s hit 11 doubles and two triples. Soon those doubles will turn into homers and his 20-20 (HR-SB) potential can come to fruition.
The former Gold Glove winner will fit in perfectly on the All-Small team!
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Steven Kwan (5’9″).
Cedric Mullins (CF)
Fresh off of a 30-30 (HR-SB) season, this outlier Oriole has continued to show off his power and speed combination in 2022.
This season, Mullins has a .254 batting average with 6 home runs and 16 stolen bases. He’s also scored 37 runs and driven in 28. Since Cedric chose to stop switch-hitting and instead, bat left-handed full-time – he’s been otherworldly. That decision brought him a Silver Slugger award last season as well as his first nod to the All-Star team.
The Entertainer, as he’s called, has certainly entertained the masses this season. Enough so to be the captain of the outfield for the All-Small team.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Andrew McCutchen (5’11”).
Mookie Betts (RF)
There aren’t enough words that can describe how incredible Mookie Betts is. 5-time All-Star. 2-time World Series Champion. 4-time Silver Slugger. 5-time Gold Glove winner. 1 MVP award. 2 second place MVP finishes. This season – nothing different.
Mookie is 84th percentile or better in HardHit%, xwOBA, xSLG, Whiff%, Chase Rate, and Outfielder Jump. He currently has a .273 batting average, .349 on-base percentage, and .535 slugging percentage. Accompanying those numbers, he has 17 home runs, 6 stolen bases, 53 runs scored and 40 runs batted in.
To think that one of the undisputed best baseball players in the game today is only 5’9″ just goes to show you that height is simply a number. Oh, and did I mention that Mookie is an outstanding bowler too? Come practice with me when you’re in New York one day, any time, I’ll pay.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Mike Yastrzemski (5’10”).
Sonny Gray (SP)
This tiny-Twin is anything but small on the mound. He’s been injured a few times this season but when he’s pitching, he has been dominant.
In 42.2 IP, Gray has gone 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts. With a 6-pitch arsenal, Sonny has plenty of ways to carve up batters. His fastball is actually 93rd percentile in spin and although it only averages 92 mph, the four-seamer has a 32.6% CSW%. Also, opponents have a batting average under .200 on each of Gray’s sinker, curveball, and slider this season.
Nobody around Gray’s height has put up numbers like these this season, let alone over his 10-year career.
Drawing the short straw, Honorable Mention: Marcus Stroman (5’7″).
With those nine players being selected, the All-Small team is ready to stand tall and play ball! Hopefully, this proves that height is just a number and it can’t stop you from being a professional athlete. A team compiled of the smallest players in the game could compete with the best of the best, even a team full of Space-Jam-Monstar-Big-Foot-Look-Alike’s.
Never confuse small for weak.
Photos by Icon Sportswire Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on Twitter)