Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Kansas City is preparing to play host to
Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on July 10 and rosters will be announced
Fan voting will determine the starting lineups. For this exercise, though,
we'll ignore the fan vote. What follows is one take on the players who most
deserve to make up the 34-player American and National League rosters (with
statistics through Monday):
1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (.355, 14 HR, 47 RBI): No one is more clearly
the best player at his position in the NL than Votto is at his.
2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (.309, 5 HR, 23 RBI): Just 5-foot-5, this guy
certainly hasn't been short on production. He's too anonymous to ever win a fan
vote, but he's going to be in Kansas City.
SS: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs (.301, 6 HR, 39 RBI): A big bright spot in a
miserable season for the Cubs. He and the Astros' Altuve are just 22 years old.
3B: David Wright, New York Mets (.358, 8 HR, 41 RBI): After a couple of injury-
riddled and subpar seasons, Wright is back where he belongs among the NL's
C: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies (.354, 9 HR, 39 RBI): Yadier Molina's
having his best season, too, and he's the unquestioned top defensive catcher.
Still, how could anyone deny Ruiz, who is having a breakout season with a .982
OPS at age 33?
OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (.327, 17 HR, 53 RBI): The Rockies have
some really talented players, but they're struggling mightily because none of
them is a pitcher. Gonzalez is the best hitter of the bunch, and he's having
another huge season.
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (.339, 13 HR, 46 RBI): This guy would
probably be a bigger star if he played in nearly any other market. This will be
the second of many All-Star Game appearances for the five-tool center fielder.
OF: Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals (.313, 20 HR, 57 RBI): Albert who? A
healthy Beltran has been one of the league's top players in the first half of
the season. Basically signed to replace Albert Pujols' in the Cardinals'
batting order, the 35-year-old outfielder has out-produced the Angels' new
DH: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (.314, 20 HR, 52 RBI): The reigning league
MVP, Braun is on pace to post even better power numbers this season. Fortunate
to win an appeal of a 50-game steroid suspension, we'll put him at designated
hitter because the other three outfield starters are superior defenders.
1B: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals (.251, 13 HR, 44 RBI): This is an
incredibly weak position in the NL this season, thanks to the departures of
Pujols and Prince Fielder and a ruptured Achilles tendon that has sidelined the
Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard. LaRoche, based on his solid RBI total, gets
the nod over Chicago's Bryan LaHair and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul
Goldschmidt to back up Votto.
2B: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks (.291, 10 HR, 35 RBI): Hill has been fabulous
lately, boosting the slow-starting Diamondbacks back into contention. He leads
all NL second basemen in OPS and he'd even be a solid choice as the NL's
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds (.284, 10 HR, 45 RBI): He doesn't run as much as he
did in the past (only three steals), but Phillips is a top-notch fielder and
run producer for a middle infielder.
SS: Jed Lowrie, Astros (.266, 13 HR, 32 RBI): Wow, where has that power come
from? Lowrie already has four more homers than his previous career high, which
should earn him a nod as an NL reserve.
3B: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres (.265, 7 HR, 35 RBI): Perhaps not truly
deserving, but Headley could be the obligatory Padres selection (which could
come at the expense of the Cardinals' David Freese). The best other San Diego
options are closer Huston Street (1.50 ERA, 11 saves, but only 18 innings) or
outfielder Carlos Quentin (sidelined until Memorial Day with a knee injury, but
has six homers in just 73 at-bats).
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (.319, 11 HR, 41 RBI): Molina's defense was All-
Star caliber from the start. Now he's one of the majors' top offensive
catchers, too, and he'd be a fine choice to start the game.
C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (.295, 10 HR, 40 RBI): Posey has bounced
back nicely from last year's gruesome leg injury to again provide a strong
presence in the middle of the Giants' order. This roster spot could easily come
down to either Posey or the Los Angeles Dodgers' A.J. Ellis, who has also had a
remarkable first half.
OF: Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves (.311, 6 HR, 24 RBI): The free-agent-to-be
has been a solid all-around player this season, even showing a little pop.
OF: Melky Cabrera, Giants (.351, 6 HR, 35 RBI): A strong case could be made for
Cabrera to be in the starting lineup. Either way, he'll be returning on July 10
to Kansas City, where he had a breakthrough season last summer before being
dealt to San Francisco in the offseason.
OF: Andre Ethier, Dodgers (.292, 10 HR, 55 RBI): His 55 RBIs are second in the
league, so Ethier has earned a spot. Teammate Matt Kemp might win the fan vote
in the outfield and might be the league's top player. Kemp wasn't picked here
because he's missed so much time with a hamstring injury.
OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals (.304, 12 HR, 47 RBI): Teammate Carlos Beltran's
remarkable season has overshadowed Holliday a bit, but the Cardinals' left
fielder is as consistent as they get and is in the middle of a typically
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins (.267, 16 HR, 45 RBI): He's in as the Marlins'
lone representative, but his red-hot May has given him All-Star-caliber stats.
The only problem is that there are so many quality candidates left off this
roster, such as Cincinnati's Jay Bruce, Arizona's Jason Kubel and Atlanta's
Martin Prado and Jason Heyward, etc.
R.A. Dickey, New York Mets (11-1, 2.31 ERA): The knuckleballer has arguably
been the best pitcher in baseball, and he could get the starting nod for the
Matt Cain, Giants (9-2, 2.27 ERA): With two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum
struggling mightily, Cain has stepped up to become the ace whom many thought
he'd become. He signed a huge contract at the start of the season, but he's
been well worth the investment.
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals (9-2, 2.60 ERA): Just as advertised,
the phenom has become one of the league's best pitchers. It's going to be a
shame when he gets shut down (as the organization says) by a team-imposed
innings limit when the pennant race heats up in September.
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals (9-3, 2.55 ERA): Washington gave up plenty to obtain
Gonzalez, but there have been no regrets after his strong first-half
Johnny Cueto, Reds (9-3, 2.21 ERA): Cincinnati had been a pitching ace away
from becoming a solid contender. Cueto has taken on the challenge and filled
that role capably.
Zack Greinke, Brewers (8-2, 2.81 ERA): Greinke was solid for the Brewers last
year, and his ERA is over a run lower this season.
James McDonald, Pirates (6-3, 2.19 ERA): Pitching is keeping the low-scoring
Pirates in the hunt for an NL Central title. McDonald has been the Bucs' best
pitcher, tied for third in ERA in the league. Teammate A.J. Burnett will be
strongly considered for an All-Star nod, too.
Cole Hamels, Phillies (10-3, 3.03 ERA): He's never exceeded 15 wins in a
season, but it sure looks like he's going to top that total this year. He has
the highest ERA of the 10 starters on this All-Star squad. If the NL wants
another sub-3.00 ERA guy, 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw could replace
Chris Capuano, Dodgers (9-2, 2.60 ERA): He's always had potential and he's
always been injured. Well, he's healthy this year, and the results have been
Aroldis Chapman, Reds (4-4, 2.04 ERA, 8 saves): Finally given the chance to
become the Reds' closer, Chapman had been thriving in the role before a couple
of hiccups last week. Still, he is dominant most of the time and a nightmare
for left-handed hitters.
Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (9-3, 2.19 ERA): He didn't start the year in Arizona's
rotation, but he's been the team's ace in the first half. Miley might be the
NL's biggest surprise All-Star, but he's deserving.
Craig Kimbrell, Braves (0-0, 1.33 ERA, 21 saves): With the New York Yankees'
Mariano Rivera on the shelf with a knee injury, Kimbrell has taken over the as
best closer in baseball.
Tyler Clippard, Nationals (1-2, 1.95 ERA, 12 saves): Clippard made the NL squad
as a set-up man last season. He's closing now, and he's handled that job with
all-star quality, too. This NL all-star staff is heavy on starters, but closers
Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies and Santiago Casilla of the Giants wouldn't
be bad selections, either.
1B: Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox (.337, 13 HR, 39 RBI): A power hitter,
Konerko has never had an average higher than .313 for a season. He's
threatening to win his first batting title this year.
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees (.302, 17 HR, 39 RBI): He has the highest OPS in the
Yankees' power-packed lineup (.941), and he figures to be an All-Star quite a
few more times in his career.
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees (.304, 7 HR, 25 RBI): One would have expected Jeter to
decline in his age-37 season. Instead, he has a chance to hit higher than .300
for a season for the first time since 2009.
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.307, 15 HR, 59 RBI): The Tigers have had a
disappointing year, but Cabrera has been as good as usual. He's even been
better than expected defensively in his return to third base; he's committed
just seven errors.
C: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (.284, 12 HR, 41 RBI): He has solid, all-around
numbers, and he gets the nod here over the Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer because
of his superior power.
OF: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (.318, 23 HR, 66 RBI): He's cooled off some
after an incredible start. A run at the AL Triple Crown is still a possibility,
OF: Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels (.316, 17 HR, 49 RBI): If the Angels
overtake the Rangers in the West Division, Trumbo could become an MVP
candidate. With a $500,000 salary, he's possibly baseball's best bargain.
Unless, of course, teammate Mike Trout is.
OF: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (.300, 19 HR, 40 RBI): The Orioles'
surprising first half is mostly the result of fine pitching, but Jones has
given them a top power presence in the middle of the order, too.
DH: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (.304, 20 HR, 52 RBI): Not a whole lot has gone
right for Boston in the first half, but Big Papi hasn't been one of the
problems. At 36, he's on pace for his best season since 2007.
1B: Prince Fielder, Tigers (.303, 11 HR, 46 RBI): The home run total has
decreased with the move to pitcher-friendly Comerica Park, but Fielder's still
hitting for average and driving in runs like always.
1B/DH: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays (.286, 21 HR, 51 RBI): Yes, there
are too many designated hitter types on this squad, but Encarnacion could fill
in at third base, too. With his numbers, it's hard to deny him an All-Star bid.
2B: Jason Kipnis, Indians (.274, 11 HR, 42 RBI): Kipnis has a nice speed/power
combination for a middle infielder.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (.291, 9 HR, 33 RBI): If not for Jeter's
presence, Cabrera would be the most deserving AL All-Star starter at shortstop.
He might be the league's best all-around player at the position.
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers (.328, 13 HR, 48 RBI): Flip a coin for the starting
nod at third base for the AL. It would be hard to argue with either Beltre or
3B: Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (.258, 10 HR, 45 RBI): No one's really having
an All-Star season for the Mariners, but Seager has given a good boost to the
offense. If he doesn't make the All-Star team, then Felix Hernandez (5-5, 3.36
ERA) would be Seattle's representative.
C: Joe Mauer, Twins (.323, 3 HR, 34 RBI): His power has decreased dramatically
since a 28-homer campaign in 2009. Still, .300-hitting catchers don't grow on
trees. Fans would like to see him do more to justify a $23 million salary, but
he would even be a worthy AL starter.
OF: Mike Trout, Angels (.338, 7 HR, 29 RBI): At 20, Trout has immediately
established himself as one of the best players in the league. Although he began
the year in the minor leagues, he might deserve to crack the AL's starting
lineup. Through Monday, he leads the AL in batting average.
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (.237, 24 HR, 57 RBI): The batting average is
slowly creeping up during a strong June. It still might keep him off the AL
squad, but Bautista has been mighty productive. He has a great chance to win
his third consecutive AL home run crown.
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees (.243, 21 HR, 41 RBI): The batting average is
down, but Granderson is on pace for his second 40-plus home run season and has
played flawless defense in center field.
OF: Josh Willingham, Twins (.275, 15 HR, 49 RBI): Willingham has been a
productive free-agent signing for the non-contending Twins. They'll probably
field multiple offers for him before the trade deadline.
OF: Austin Jackson, Tigers (.311, 7 HR, 30 RBI): Jackson has missed time with
an abdominal strain. When he's played, he's shown great all-around skills.
Jered Weaver, Angels (7-1, 2.40 ERA): A back injury sidelined him for about
three weeks, but Weaver has been terrific when healthy.
C.J. Wilson, Angels (8-4, 2.44 ERA): The prized free-agent signing has picked
up where he left off in Texas.
Jason Hammel, Orioles (8-2, 2.61 ERA): He flashed potential during six previous
big-league seasons with Tampa Bay and Colorado, but he had never been more than
mediocre. After getting traded to Baltimore, he has suddenly become a Cy Young
Chris Sale, White Sox (8-2, 2.24 ERA): New to the White Sox's rotation this
year, the former reliever has become an instant ace.
Justin Verlander, Tigers (8-4, 2.52 ERA): The win total is down, but that's not
really Verlander's fault for the most part. His other stats aren't all that
different from last year, when he was the AL MVP and Cy Young winner.
Jake Peavy, White Sox (6-4, 2.84 ERA): He's allowed less than one base runner
per inning. Peavy is in a tough park for pitchers, but he's having his best
season since 2007. If the low win total is bothersome, the AL could opt instead
for 10-game winner Matt Harrison of the Rangers or nine-game winner CC Sabathia
of the Yankees.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays (10-4, 2.95 ERA): Another solid season has
confirmed Price's reputation as one of the game's finest young left-handers.
Jim Johnson, Orioles (1-0, 1.10 ERA, 22 saves): His strikeout rate is a little
low for a closer (20 in 32 2/3 innings), but Johnson is having a magical season
Chris Perez, Indians (0-1, 2.54 ERA, 23 saves): Thought to be on shaky ground
at the start of the season, Perez has been outstanding while leading the AL in
saves. He has yet to allow a home run.
Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals (1-1, 1.57 ERA, 18 saves): Struggling
through injuries and inconsistency the last couple of years with the Dodgers,
Broxton has rejuvenated his career as Kansas City's closer. He's the All-Star
host Royals' best bet to get picked to the AL team, although Billy Butler is a
good possibility, too.
Ryan Cook, Oakland Athletics (2-2, 1.65 ERA, 5 saves): With Brandon McCarthy
out with a shoulder injury, the Athletics' All-Star selection basically comes
down to Cook or Josh Reddick. With just 11 hits allowed in 32 2/3 innings of
relief, Cook gets the nod here.
Joe Nathan, Rangers (0-2, 2.05 ERA, 16 saves): The former Twins closer got off
to a shaky start in Texas, but that's a faded memory now. He's re-established
himself as one of the game's best closers.
Fernando Rodney, Rays (2-1, 1.07 ERA, 21 saves): For a pitcher with an ERA
above 4.00 for five consecutive years, Rodney has been remarkable in the first
half. He's rarely issued walks or allowed homers, which is a good recipe for
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