The SEC will again be well represented all summer on Major League Baseball diamonds throughout the league.
As reported by SEC Network, there were 68 former SECers on MLB opening-day rosters, once again the most by any college conference. That’s up six from last year.
In second for conference participation is the Pac-12 with 43 players, followed by the ACC (41) and Big 12 (30).
We think the SEC would do pretty well if the conference all met up in a World Baseball Classic-style tournament. Here’s a team of the top players the SEC could throw out there:
Catcher — James McCann, Arkansas, Detroit Tigers: This is a bit of a position of weakness for the SEC, but at least McCann will provide great defense and some upside with the stick. He’s the Tigers catcher of the present and the future.
First base — Mitch Moreland, Mississippi State, Boston Red Sox: He’s an underwhelming piece of powerful Boston team, so he’ll be right at home as an underwhelming piece on our team. You know what you’re getting with Moreland, who has hit more than 20 home runs three times in his career.
Second base — Ian Kinsler, Missouri, Detroit Tigers: The veteran should provide leadership and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career at at 34 for Detroit with a steady glove and solid pop. He gets the nod over DJ LeMahieu of LSU and the Colorado Rockies.
Shortstop — Alex Bregman, LSU, Houston Astros: He’s playing third base at the major league level, but we’ll let him relive his LSU days at shortstop. Bregman is one of the best young talents in the game. We’ll give him the nod over Zach Cosart of Ole Miss, who plays with the Cincinnati Reds. Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt (Atlanta Braves) is also waiting in the wings.
Third base — Josh Donaldson, Auburn, Toronto Blue Jays: The three-time All-Star and 2015 AL MVP is among the best fielders — at any position — in baseball. He’ll anchor the SEC lineup in this thought experiment.
Leftfield — Andrew Benintendi, Arkansas, Boston Red Sox: This one is more about projection than production, as the 22-year-old Hog should have a long career in the shadow of the Green Monster in the Fenway outfield.
Centerfield — Jackie Bradley Jr., South Carolina, Boston Red Sox: Bradley busted out with an All-Star season last year for the Sox, belting 26 home runs and batting .267. At 26, he’ll be able to play on the mythical SEC team for many years to come.
Rightfield — Seth Smith, Ole Miss, Baltimore Orioles: Another “hole” for the SEC is filled by a 10-year veteran who has smacked double-digit home run totals in seven different seasons.
Designated hitter — Jason Kipnis, Kentucky, Cleveland Indians: Because Kipnis left Kentucky for Arizona State after two years, he’s relegated to DH as Kinsler takes the 2B spot. The two-time All-Star is a leader for the Indians, who are among the favorites to win the World Series.
Rotation — Max Scherzer, Missouri, Washington Nationals; David Price, Vanderbilt, Boston Red Sox; Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt, Oakland A’s; Dallas Keuchel, Arkansas, Houston Astros; Michael Wacha, Texas A&M, St. Louis Cardinals: Oh, just three Cy Young Award winners who are still in their primes and two others, Gray and Wacha, who could get to that level someday with some luck in the health department.
Bullpen — Sam Dyson, South Carolina, Texas Rangers; Darren O’Day, Florida, Baltimore Orioles; Will Harris, LSU, Houston Astros: Dyson is the closer for the Rangers, registering 38 saves a year ago. Meanwhile, O’Day will try to bounce back this year, regaining his form as one of the game’s dominant set-up men, a place where Harris is sitting now after making his first All-Star Game in 2016.
Closer — David Robertson, Alabama, Chicago White Sox: The closer for the United States in the World Baseball Classic might not get a lot of high leverage action this year for the young White Sox. But he’s proven he can handle it in the past, earning 118 saves in his career for the New York Yankees and White Sox.