Every year on Super Bowl weekend, baseball writers take a crack at filling a football roster with MLB players. There is something strangely enjoyable about imagining your favorite athletes trying their hand in another sport. I selected players with traits specific to each position in a traditional football team. The team I put forth is a bit different than any other I’ve seen.
A few notes before I get to the roster. For this team, I used a traditional 4-3-3 formation, which is used by most teams including FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. Most of the information for unique positional attributes is from this website. You will notice the entirety of the list consists of position players, but that is only because arm strength plays no role here. To make things more interesting, I have not included multiple players from any MLB team.
Introducing the FC Dinger Squad roster
Goalie - Nolan Arenado (3B - Rockies)
Third basemen face the most similar conditions to that of goalkeepers in that they need lightning fast reflexes and quick lateral movement to keep balls from going by them. Nolan Arenado is one of, if not the best, defensive third baseman in baseball. He is a perfect 5 for 5 in Gold Glove awards and has the highest range factor per 9 innings (3.112) of any active third baseman. If you need help visualizing Arenado as a goalie, here is a gif of him showing off his range.
Left Fullback - Bryce Harper (RF - Nationals)
Fullbacks are part of the last line of defense on the field, but they are also very important on offensive drives. They need to have great speed and passing ability while also having the strength to stop opposing player on defense. Harper is a fiery athlete who can fill this role, but even more importantly has the hair of a european soccer star.
Right Fullback - Byron Buxton (CF - Twins)
The player with the fastest sprint speed in baseball (according to statcast) had to make this team. Buxton might lack some of the finesse required to be a midfielder or forward, but his closing speed and physical nature make him more suited for defense. Just watch this man fly.
Center Backs (2x) - Aaron Judge (RF - Yankees), Yasiel Puig (RF - Dodgers)
Unlike fullbacks, center backs need to bigger, stronger, and more physical to prevent any opposing players from taking the ball down the middle of the field for a shot. Typically, there is one CB who is a tall and physical to handle aggressive forwards and win headers. Aaron Judge is the perfect player for this role, especially considering he is quite agile for his size. The other CB is usually expected to take on opposing players who are more crafty with the ball and therefore need a bit more speed without sacrificing strength. Yasiel Puig, AKA the “Wild Horse”, would be my choice to take on any player with a full head of steam. As long as he doesn’t rack up too many yellow cards, his aggression is a great feature. Here are a some applicable gifs ( Judge , Puig ).
Left Midfielder - Javier Baez (2B - Cubs)
Now that we’ve established the defensive positions, it’s time to figure out who’s gonna be making some plays happen. Midfielders have to be quick and have great stamina, of course, but they also have to be creative and have exceptional composure. Javier Baez is a great athlete, especially in terms of coordination. He also is known for making some flashy, creative plays in key situations. Here is a great example of some clutch juggling from Baez.
Right Midfielder - Mookie Betts (RF - Red Sox)
Here’s another player who is known for having some of the best hands in baseball. Hand eye coordination can also translate to foot eye coordination too, which is why I think Betts would make a great midfielder. Another indicator of his all around athleticism is that he emerged as a gold glove outfielder in the majors despite being a second baseman in the minor leagues. Ideally, football is Mookie’s third best sport behind baseball and bowling. Also, he could be great at exaggerating fouls if he does what he did in this gif.
Central Midfielder - Andrelton Simmons (SS - Angels)
Since I’m taking no MLB teammates for this football team, I had to choose between having Mike Trout or Andrelton Simmons. I went with Simmons on the basis that as the best defensive shortstop, he has the best situational awareness of any baseball player. He would be great at reading the field, facilitating prepared runs, and out-maneuvering defenders with his suave moves. These are all things center midfielders have to be able to do, and I think Simba is best equipped to direct the team. He is also one of the only players I could find football footage of.
Left Wing Forward - Billy Hamilton (CF - Reds)
Adding as much blistering speed as possible isn’t a bad way to go. Wing forwards are some of the fastest athletes in any sport. They also have to skilled at technical elements such as passing, dribbling, and shooting. Billy Hamilton at the very least can leave defenders in the dust. He has plenty of applicable skills beyond his speed though. For example, here is a great sliding header he managed hit in a game.
Right Wing Forward - Jose Altuve (2B - Astros)
The AL MVP could also be the MVP of the MLB football super-team. The “Venezuelan Messi” if you will. Jose Altuve has a deadly combination of coordination and speed that would allow him to get past almost any defender. Similar to Lionel Messi, his small stature and low center of gravity give him above average balance that would allow him to maintain possession of the ball at high speeds or when challenged by defenders. He has some football experience under his belt as well. In a statement Altuve made for a 2016 mlb.com article, he mentioned he still plays football in the offseason because it's great cardio. To top things off, he would also be great at drawing foul calls.
Striker - Kevin Pillar (CF - Blue Jays)
Goals are harder to come by than runs are, so it takes complete poise at the right moments to put your team ahead. Strikers are supposed to fast and strong like every other position, but perhaps even more importantly they have to confident and decisive. Kevin Pillar has earned the nickname “Superman” by sacrificing his body for spectacular catches. He is the player I want shooting himself out of a canon for any goal scoring opportunity. Imagine him flying in for a header the same way he does for a baseball.
That’s my whole squad. I’d love to see if anybody else can come up with a better one. Share your feedback on twitter or facebook @beattheshiftBP. For all of you who feel lied to by the title of this article, just remember the REAL football is far superior to American “hand-egg”. Happy Super Bowl Sunday!