Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 AL West Divisional Breakdown

It’s time for baseball.  I’m taking a quick look at each division and making some predictions before the season really takes off. 

I’ll start with the AL West.  A division thought to be between LA and Seattle last year instead saw the Astros finally make good on their potential and the forgotten Rangers get healthy and add an ace (that’s four words in a row that began with “a”) to make a late season run to the division crown.  What will happen this year?


Texas Rangers-        How good can this team be with Cole Hamels pitching for them all season?

Houston Astros-      Can this young team maintain the discipline to contend with expectations heaped upon them, a very new element for this club?

Los Angeles Angels- Is the best player in the game enough to carry this team and their questionable pitching staff?

Seattle Mariners-     Will some new faces be enough for this highly touted team from last year to make good on last off-season’s promise?

Oakland Athletics-  Is there a plan in place?  Or are they just treading water, doing the best they can until their stadium situation gets ironed out?


Texas Rangers-          90-72                          DIVISION WINNER
Houston Astros-         86-76                         SECOND WILDCARD WINNER
Los Angeles Angels-  82-80
Seattle Mariners-      80-82
Oakland Athletics-     68-94

Texas Rangers

Projected Lineup/Pitching Staff

SS                                Elvis Andrus
RF                               Shin Soo Choo
3B                               Adrian Beltre
DH                              Prince Fielder
LF                               Ian Desmond
1B                               Mitch Moreland
2B                               Rougned Odor
C                                 Robinson Chirinos
CF                               Delino DeShields

LHP                             Cole Hamels
RHP                             Yu Darvish
LHP                             Derek Holland
LHP                             Martin Perez
RHP                             Colby Lewis
CLOSER                      Shawn Tolleson

For the Rangers, the key is health.  Two years ago many picked them to win the division, but they were torpedoed by injuries.  People forgot about them last year, and then they got healthy, added an ace at the deadline and raced up to the top of the standings.  I love them this year. 

Hamels is a legitimate ace.  If Darvish and Holland are healthy (and if Darvish comes back early in the season) then this is a very strong pitching staff.  While the bullpen is a little muddled, they do seem to have lots of good arms, which may help them if they end up with closer issues.  They are going with Tolleson, but perhaps will let others earn some Saves from time to time.

Either way, they have a phenomenal offense, which will always keep them competitive.  Fielder is still a legitimately fearful power bat that can hit over 300.  Desmond, Moreland and Beltre can all chip in 20 HR.  Andrus isn’t a traditional leadoff man, but he provides some speed while Choo has a great OBP.  One or two of them should get on base enough to score a decent amount of runs. The defense doesn’t blow you away, but it should be solid.  I believe that if this team is healthy, they will win a very close division.

Houston Astros

Projected Lineup/Pitching Staff

CF                                Carlos Gomez
2B                               Jose Altuve
SS                                Carlos Correa
DH                               Evan Gattis
RF                                George Springer
3B                               Luis Valbuena
LF                                Colby Rasmus
C                                  Jason Castro
1B                               Tyler White

LHP                             Dallas Keuchel
RHP                             Colin McHugh
RHP                             Mike Fiers
RHP                             Scott Feldman
RHP                             Doug Fister
CLOSER                      Luke Gregerson

The Astros rebuild is over.  They finally cashed in on their potential and made the playoffs.  They are young and talented.  They can hit, run and field.  But, they are dealing with something new this year.  They finally have to face expectations. Houston kind of snuck up on everyone last season and contended a year earlier than expected.  But now, people are ready for them and they will get the best that every team has to offer.  Additionally, they never lived up to their hot start.  They played better down the stretch, but they had an insane first month that set them up for success.  But they didn’t win the division and were slowing down as time went on.  I like this team, but I worry that their youth will be an additional hurdle for them.  However, they should still play well because they are just insanely talented. 

Altuve is a star that will hit over 300, steal at least 30 bases (probably closer to 40) and can probably score 85+ R.  He also showed surprising pop with 15 HR last year, which is why I dropped him down a spot to his second.  Perhaps with Gomez on base in front of him, he can see more fastballs and slug another 15 HR.  Gomez is a great fielder who was in the conversation for best center fielder in baseball a few years ago.  He may not be there now, but he should hit for plus AVG with double digit HR and SB.  The big question is:  how good will Carlos Correa be?  A lot of people have him as their MVP pick this year.  I think that’s a little overly ambitions, but I love his talent.  I could see another 270+ season and a 20/20 campaign with close to 100 RBI and R.  There is a drop off after that, but Gattis can slug 30 HR and threaten for 90+ RBI, Springer is always getting better and could be a 20/20 man, Valbuena should surpass 20 HR again and Rasmus can at least slug 15 HR, if he offers little else. 

The pitching staff has a legitimate ace in Keuchel who can win 20 games with 200+ IP and Ks.  McHugh and Fiers are strong arms behind him and I think Fister will surprise and come close to being as dominant as he was in 2013 and 2014.  Gregerson will transition nicely to the closer’s role and Neshek, Giles, Sipp and Fields all have great bullpen arms.  This defense looks fantastic on paper with 2 center fielders patrolling the outfield next to a very good right fielder and a phenomenal double play combo.  I like this team a lot this year and think they have a good chance to return to the postseason.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Projected Lineup/Pitching Staff

3B                               Yunel Escobar
RF                                Cole Calhoun
CF                                Mike Trout
1B                               Albert Pujols
DH                               C.J. Cron
C                                  Geovany Soto
LF                                Daniel Nava
2B                               Johnny Giovotella
SS                                Andrelton Simmons

RHP                             Garrett Richards
LHP                             Andrew Heaney
RHP                             Jered Weaver
LHP                             Hector Santiago
RHP                             Matt Shoemaker
CLOSER                      Huston Street

There are lots of questions with this team.  And it’s frustrating, because you see the talent of Trout and think that this team should go for it all now.  He is in his prime and is the best player in baseball.  Instead, he gets a little protection from an aging Albert Pujols and nothing else.  The team lacks a true leadoff hitter.  They don’t have a true left fielder.  And they look weak at second base and catcher.  Additionally, they didn’t really address any of those concerns in the offseason. 

They also have lots of pitching questions.  Richards is a very good pitcher.  Not one of the top aces, but I like his stuff.  Heaney has talent and good stuff, but is largely unproven.  I love Santiago and think he gets consistently overlooked.  He’s not an ace, but I like him as a number 2 or a great number 3.  But then the question marks come in.  Jered Weaver has lost all of his velocity.  He is smart, but you can only do so much pitching in the low 80s.  And Shoemaker is nothing more than a back of the rotation starter.  The bullpen looks solid with Street, Smith and Salas, but those are end of the game guys.  It’s the other names that don’t excite you, and with this starting staff’s potential issues, those are the arms that will likely end up throwing more innings than the Angels would like. 

This offense should score runs, but they aren’t the Blue Jays.  Trout is great.  Think 280+ with 30+ HR and over 100 RBI and R.  He wants to run more, but I don’t think we will see another 40 SB season from him again.  Stealing bases can lead to injuries, especially with big guys.  I’ll put my ceiling for him at 20 and expect closer to 15.  Nobody else comes close to performing like him at the plate.  Pujols had a great 40 HR/95 RBI season last year.  I’d expect more like 30 and 80 this year with a 250 AVG.  Kole Calhoun showed some power last year with 26 HR.  He can likely do that again, but offers a fairly pedestrian AVG and little speed. There is nothing else after them.  They added Andrelton Simmons who is the best defender in baseball.  But he plays short, which wasn’t a position of need for them.  The Braves got Aybar back in return, but while the defense will be better, Aybar’s defense wasn’t bad and he was a better hitter.  Simmons is still figuring it out on the plate and offers inconsistent power and little speed.  Escobar is being asked to be a leadoff man based off what he did last season in Washington.  He was very good, but it came out of nowhere.  I don’t know if he can repeat it.  I bet he will hit for at least 270, but offers no speed and can be a clubhouse drain.  Left field will be a platoon between Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry, but neither is exiting.  Gentry is a speedster, but lacks the ability to get on base enough to utilize that tool.  With him in left, this outfield defense should be great.  When it is Nava, it should still be solid.  Simmons and Escobar may comprise the best left side of the infield in baseball.  That will help this team go get it overall.  And they will need to, because the pitching staff has question marks.  I think this team will continue to sit around 500, which is not good enough to contend, but also not good enough to reap draft picks and re-build.  This is a team eternally stuck in purgatory and likely not going anywhere else this year.

Seattle Mariners

Projected Lineup/Pitching Staff

LF                                Nori Aoki
3B                               Kyle Seager
2B                               Robinson Cano
DH                               Nelson Cruz
1B                               Adam Lind
C                                  Chris Ianetta
RF                                Seth Smith
SS                                Ketel Marte
CF                                Leonys Martin

RHP                             Felix Hernandez
RHP                             Hisashi Iwakuma
LHP                             Wade Miley
RHP                             Taijuan Walker
RHP                             Nate Karns
CLOSER                      Steve Cishek

This team was expected to do good things last year.  They did not.  They have not played well since signing Cano to that huge deal.  I don’t think that has anything to do with their issues, but the fact is the Mariners can’t seem to put it all together.  However, they went out and hired Jerry DiPoto to be their GM and I love what he does. 

I like his moves this offseason.  He added another strong arm in Wade Miley and re-signed Iwakuma.  This pitching staff looks to be strong.  Hernandez is a legitimate ace.  Iwakuma has had a lot of success in Seattle and I see no reason why that won’t continue.  Miley struggled in Boston, but I think a change in scenery will do him well.  He had some success in Arizona, so perhaps a smaller market will take some expectations off of him.  And moving to Seattle helps any pitcher.  All three of those guys can reach 200 IP with King Felix threatening for 20 Wins and an ERA around 3.  Iwakuma could be around 3.50 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Miley was right at 4, or slightly under.  Walker has great stuff but has to put it all together.  He will one day, but I don’t know if it will happen this season.  The back end of the bullpen looks strong with Benoit leading to Cishek, but the other arms are suspect.  And Cishek isn’t bulletproof because he struggled in Miami, which isn’t a bad place to pitch, and lost his job as the closer.  I think he’ll be fine here, but that is something to be aware of.  If the top of the rotation can eat up innings, this pitching staff should be fine. 

But pitching hasn’t been an issue is Seattle.  It has been the offense.  Cano is the offensive centerpiece.  He is very good, but moving to Seattle has affected his numbers.  Not just because Seattle is a harder place to hit, but also because the new Yankee stadium is a ridiculous place to hit.  But I think Cano should approach 300 with 20-25 HR and perhaps 90 RBI, if the top of the lineup can bet on base.  And that is a big if.  Aoki isn’t a bad signing.  But his speed has diminished and he never had much power.  He has a strong OBP, but looks to be primarily a singles hitter without a ton of stolen base speed.  I like him for 285 and a 350 OBP, but no more than 15 SB and likely only 80-85 R.  Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz primarily offer power.  Neither will hurt you in terms of AVG, but both are likely dealing with a 270 ceiling.  And Seager isn’t running much anymore.  Adam Lind is a nice addition to extend the offense a bit, but I think moving to Seattle turns his 20 HR to 15.  The rest of the team offers little in the way of offense.  The defense looks solid with Leonys Martin locking down center, Cano and Seager looking strong at second and third and enough talent everywhere else to keep things in control.  This may not be the best defense in baseball, but it is solid. 

This is a team that looked to do it all last year, but fell short.  They made some changes and hope to bounce back this year.  Lots of people are picking them as dark horse candidates to come out of nowhere and contend.  And that’s possible.  But I think there is too much talent in this division for them to make a real run.  Perhaps they leap the Angles, but I still see them as a team that hovers around 500.

Oakland Athletics

Projected Lineup/Pitching Staff

CF                                            Billy Burns
2B                                           Jed Lowrie
LF                                            Khris Davis
RF                                            Josh Reddick
DH                                           Billy Butler
C                                              Stephen Vogt
1B                                           Mark Canha
3B                                           Danny Valencia
SS                                            Marcus Semien

RHP                                         Sonny Gray
LHP                                         Rich Hill
RHP                                         Chris Bassitt
RHP                                         Kendall Graveman
LHP                                         Felix Doubront
CLOSER                                  Sean Dolittle

The A’s are in a tough spot.  They always have a plan, but have been hamstrung by their financial situation for years.  Billy Beane found ways to contend despite that, but things seem to have gotten worse for the team recently, forcing them to cut and run sooner than ever from talent.  Additionally, other teams know they can’t keep their studs, which is limiting the returns Oakland is getting back.  The team wanted to move to San Jose, which would free them up to be competitive again, but the Giants blocked that, despite other teams seeming to be on board.  So Oakland is stuck wallowing in an old stadium in a market that doesn’t support the team well enough to keep them competitive.  I can’t claim to be an expert on the situation, but from my understanding, the Giants are really forcing the A’s into a corner and refuse to give up their territorial rights on an area that arguably has more A’s fans and is not a stronghold for the Giants.  What also hurts the A’s is that each year that they struggle they lose more fans in that area, eventually making the Giants claim, which was tenuous when they initially stopped the move, grow stronger each year.  It’s bad for baseball and awful for Oakland, but it is where they are.  For that reason, nothing much can happen with this team.  They have some young talent, but have to get rid of it before it can mature fully because they can’t even afford arbitration salaries for most of these guys. 

The biggest question in Oakland, unfortunately, is how long can they keep Sonny Gray.  Gray is a legitimate ace.  He may not be a huge strikeout guy, but I like him for 200 IP, 15 Wins and another sub 3 ERA.  Things drop off after that.  Rich Hill looked great in 4 starts with Boston last year.  But that is a tiny sample size and he is a real unknown.  The other guys are young and also relative unknowns, beyond Felix Doubront.  However, Doubront is coming off down seasons, and the fact that he made this rotation actually speaks to the issues the A’s are facing.  The good news is they have a strong bullpen. If Doolittle is healthy, then I like it a lot.  He will start the year late, but Ryan Madson and John Axford support him.  Neither is the ace closer they used to be, but both know how to pitch and still possess enough stuff to be solid relievers. 

The bigger issue is the offense.  I love young Billy Burns.  He had a great rookie season last year that many missed because it happened in Oakland.  I like him for maybe 30 SB and an AVG north of 270.  Khris Davis was a strong addition to bring some power.  But moving to Oakland from Milwaukee will hurt him.  Think 20 HR this year, not 27.  Billy Butler is likely due for another 250/15 HR campaign.  Reddick and Vogt are likely in line for another 270/20 HR year.  That’s it.   No stars here and little depth.  I don’t like the rest of the offense much and think this will be another long year in Oakland.  The defense even has questions with Semien at short.  The rest of the team looks solid and the outfield looks strong defensively. 

The problem for Oakland is that there is no end in sight.  The rest of their division got better and they just have no path to improve in their financial situation.  They draft and develop well, but have to cut and run so quickly that they can’t build any momentum.  I hope this changes for them soon because they do a great job developing major leaguers.  But until they improve their finances, nothing can happen with this team.

DIVISION MVP:                     Mike Trout.   (Also wins the league MVP)

Hard to pick against the best player in baseball.  Even with a subpar team around him, I like Trout for 290 with 38 HR, 110 RBI, 95 R and 12 SB.  I also think he gets on base at a 350 rate and will win a Gold Glove.  Another great season, wasted by the Angels front office.

I did consider Jose Altuve here.  And he is good enough that I think he is worthy of mention.  This guy has shown an incredible ability to adapt on top of his prodigious talent.  I think he is in for a big year.  I’ll say 340 with 18 HR, 88 RBI, 104 R and 51 SB.

DIVISION CY YOUNG:           Cole Hamels

This one was tough for a different reason.  There were lots of good options.  I love King Felix.  Sonny Gray is really good.  Keuchel won it last year and should be set up for another good year.  And Garrett Richards is a guy to watch out for. 

But I have to go with Hamels.  Generally the Cy Young goes to a guy on a playoff team.  While I think that is a dumb requirement (I know it’s not a real requirement it’s just something that a lot of voters prefer), I think that will help separate Hamels. I’m thinking 15+ Wins with an ERA under 3.25 and over 200 IP and Ks.  Don’t expect the ERA much lower, because while Philly was hitter friendly, Texas is more hitter friendly and moving to the AL and not getting to frequently face the Braves and Mets will hurt his ERA.

The other guy I considered was Dallas Keuchel.  He is another guy who could threaten 20 Wins with 200 IP and Ks.  But Hamels has more strikeout inducing stuff, which will improve his overall chances.  And I suspect Texas will win the division, which makes him my division Cy Young.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

National League All Star Post

To check out my thoughts about the AL roster and the All Star game itself, take a look at this POST.  This post is just looking at the NL All Star team and some NL snubs.  So let’s jump right in and take a look at the NL squad.

National League Starters

C          Buster Posey              300/14 HR/57 RBI/44 R/1 SB

This one was pretty easy.  Posey leads in the Triple Crown categories.  He’s also 1st in R, OBP, slugging and OPS (on-base plus slugging).  This was the right call.

1B       Paul Goldschmidt      351/20 HR/68 RBI/59 R/16 SB

This was also an easy one.  Goldy is the leading hitter in the NL and is tied for the league lead in RBI.  He’s 2nd among NL first basemen in HR (tied for 4th in the league).  He is also a great defender and is 1st in SB among all major league first basemen.

2B       Dee Gordon                335/1 HR/21 RBI/43 R/29 SB

Gordon is also a great choice. He’s 1st among all second basemen in AVG (3rd in the league) and SB (2nd in the league).  He leads the league in hits and is 2nd at his position in R.   Unfortunately he got hurt and will miss the game.

SS        Jhonny Peralta          293/11 HR/42 RBI/37 R/1 SB

This one’s tricky.  Just like the AL, there is no clear leader.  There are 3 to consider.  Peralta has the 3rd best AVG, is 1st in HR and is 3rd in R.  He is lower in the runs scored category, only has 1 steal and is a butcher at short defensively.  He’s clearly top 3, but for me is 3rd and shouldn’t be starting, maybe not even on the team.

3B       Todd Frazier              281/25 HR/55 RBI/54 R/8 SB

I like this choice a lot.  It is also a bonus that the All Star game is in Cincinnati this year, so there is a hometown player in the starting lineup.  Frazier is hitting 281, 3rd among true third basemen.  He is 1st in HR, 2nd in RBI and 1st in R.  He’s also tied for 3rd in SB among third basemen and plays good defense.  He’s the number one guy for me this year.

OF       Giancarlo Stanton      265/27 HR/67 RBI/47 R/4 SB

This is another good choice.  Stanton got off to a slow start, but has gotten hotter and pulled his AVG up to a respectable 265.  He also leads the league in HR and all NL outfielders in RBI, despite only playing in 74 games.  He is a premier power hitter, has some speed and plays good defense in right.  An injury will keep him out of the game, but he was a good selection to start.

OF       Bryce Harper             343/25 HR/60 RBI/58 R/4 SB

Harper was another great choice.  He is tied for the league lead in AVG, is 2nd in HR and 4th in RBI.  He’s also tied for 1st in R and leads the league in OBP, slugging percentage and OPS.  At his position, he is no lower than second in any major category.  He might be having the best offensive season in the NL. 

OF       Matt Holliday             303/3 HR/26 RBI/20 R/2 SB

The fans got this one wrong.  I like Holliday, but he’s only played in 52 games.  He’s hurt right now, so he won’t even be able to pay in the game, which is good because he’s undeserving.  He has played well in his 52 games, but there were other, better, choices out there that have played more.

National League Reserves

C          Yadier Molina                        289/2 HR/28 RBI/22 R

Molina is getting into that territory that Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. got into at the end of their careers.  They are automatic additions to the All Star team, regardless of how well they have played.  He’s the best defensive catcher in baseball and has the 2nd best average among all NL catchers.  But AVG is often overrated.  I’d argue that Derek Norris is having a better season.  Norris has a rough AVG (233), but far more HR, RBI and R.  Molina is not a good choice this year. 

C          Yasmani Grandal       277/14 HR/36 RBI/32 R

Grandal is a great choice.  I think he’s having the second best season among catchers, even only having played in 69 games.  I think this year it goes Posey, Grandal, Norris and then Molina among NL catchers.  At least fans got Posey starting and Grandal on the bench. 

1B       Anthony Rizzo            293/16 HR/48 RBI/46 R/12 SB

This is a great choice.  Rizzo is 3rd among all true first basemen in AVG, 4th in HR, 6th in RBI, 4th in R and 2nd in SB.  He’s also 2nd in OBP and OPS and 3rd in slugging.  He plays excellent defense and appears no lower than 6th on any list of NL first basemen. 

1B       Adrian Gonzalez        291/16 HR/51 RBI/47 R

Gonzalez was the hottest hitter in baseball early this year and is a solid bench option for this team.  His AVG is 5th among all true NL first basemen and he’s 3rd in HR.  He’s also 3rd in RBI, 2nd in R and an excellent defender.

2B       D.J. LeMahieu             304/4 HR/34 RBI/42 R/10 SB

LeMaiheu isn’t a bad choice at second.  He is probably the third best second baseman in the league this year, and the two ahead of him are already on the team.  His big stat is AVG, where he is 2nd out of all NL second basemen.  He’s 3rd in R and 5th in SB.  That’s not bad, but there may have been others more deserving than LeMahieu, though not at his position.

2B       Joe Panik                    306/6 HR/30 RBI/43 R/3 SB

Panik is the other second basemen deserving of a nod after Dee Gordon.  He is 3rd in AVG, 1st in R and 2nd in hits among NL second basemen.  He has also shown more speed and power than people thought he had.

SS        Brandon Crawford    262/12 HR/60 RBI/39 R/4 SB

Crawford’s AVG isn’t great, but it’s in the top 5 among true NL shortstops.  He is 2nd in HR, 1st in RBI and 3rd in R.  He has swiped a couple bags and plays excellent defense.  I like him better than Peralta.  I’d have him start over Peralta, but maybe not over another player who I haven’t even mentioned yet.

3B       Nolan Arenado          279/24 HR/68 RBI/49 R

Arenado is having an excellent year.  He is 3rd among true NL third basemen in AVG, 2nd in HR (4th in the league) and 1st in the league and at his position in RBI.  He’s also 2nd in R and a defensive whiz at third.  He is a great choice to be on the team and clearly the number 2 third baseman in the league this year.

3B       Kris Bryant                275/12 HR/49 RBI/45 R

Bryant is a guy with a lot of excitement around him.  He is 3rd among true NL third basemen in HR and RBI.  He’s 4th in R, tied for 3rd in SB and appears in the top 10 in AVG.  Third base is deep with Frazier and Arenado at the top.  Yunel Escobar and Matt Duffy have had strong years too and Matt Carpenter is always good.  I may put Bryant at the head of that group, but clearly behind Frazier and Arenado.

OF       Andrew McCutchen  301/10 HR/52 RBI/45 R/5 SB

McCutchen is a solid selection among a deep group of NL outfielders.  He is 6th in AVG, 11th in HR, 4th in RBI and 6th in R.  He plays a solid defensive center field and has good speed.  I like him better to start than Holliday, but not more than other reserves on this list. 

OF       Joc Pederson              231/20 HR/39 RBI/45 R/2 SB

Pederson is a rookie who has made this list despite a low AVG and high K rate.  He is third among all NL outfielders in HR, 12th in RBI and 8th in R.  He is hitting bombs, playing good defense and getting on base.  He is an exciting player, but I think there are more deserving outfielders out there.

OF       A.J. Pollock                  301/10 HR/39 RBI/54 R/18 SB

Pollock has an argument to start.  He is 4th in AVG and SB among NL outfielders and 2nd in R.  He’s also very competitive in the HR and RBI stats (top 15) and is in the top 10 in OBP and OPS.  He plays a very good defensive center field and leads all NL outfielders in hits.  For me, he’s a top 3 outfielder who should be starting.

OF       Justin Upton              269/14 HR/46 RBI/44 R/16 SB

This is another guy I’d consider starting.  While his AVG isn’t elite, he is great everywhere else.  He is 5th in HR, 6th In RBI, 5th in SB and 11th in R among NL outfielders.  He’s a great defensive left fielder too.  I don’t have him beating out Stanton, Harper or Pollock to start, but I’d have him ahead of Holliday, Pederson and McCutchen. 

National League Pitchers

SP        Madison Bumgarner 8-5, 3.34 ERA, 114 Ks, 113.1 IP, 1.08 WHIP, 1 CG

Bumgarner is having a very solid year.  It’s not as good as previous years, but above average to good.  But there are a number of pitchers with better numbers than him who are more deserving.  But if you thought Bruce Bochy wouldn’t put his own ace in the game, you’d be crazy.  This pick reeks of rewarding Bumgarner for his great postseason run last year.

SP        A.J. Burnett                 7-3, 1.99 ERA, 94 Ks, 113 IP, 1.21 WHIP

Burnett was a good choice.  His numbers are obviously great.  He has the second best ERA in the NL, and 5th most IP.  The ERA alone is enough to get him in. 

SP        Gerritt Cole                12-3, 2.28 ERA, 113 Ks, 110.1 IP, 1.11 WHIP

Cole is another excellent choice.  He leads the NL in Wins, is 5th in ERA and is 9th in Ks.  He’s in the top 10 in IP and top 15 of WHIP and BAA.  The Wins give him a shot to start the game, but I like others better.

SP        Jacob deGrom                        9-6, 2.14 ERA, 112 Ks, 113.2 IP, 0.92 WHIP

deGrom is having a fantastic year and is a great choice for the All Star team.  Last year’s Rookie of the Year is 4th in ERA, 12th in Ks, 15th in IP and tied for 6th in Wins.  He’s also got the 4th best WHIP and 5th best BAA in the league.

SP        Zack Greinke              7-2. 1.48 ERA, 98 Ks, 115.1 IP, 0.89 WHIP, 1 CG

This one was a no-brainer.  He currently has the best ERA in the senior circuit.  He’s also tied for 10th in Wins, is 15th in Ks and is 2nd in IP.  He’s 2nd in both WHIP and BAA.  He would be my second choice to start the game and is having a great season.

SP        Shelby Miller             5-4, 2.08 ERA, 88 Ks, 108 IP, 1.10 WHIP, 2 CG, 2 SHO

This was a great choice for a few reasons.  One, the Braves had to have a representative.  Two, and more importantly, Miller is having a great year.  His ERA is 6th in the league.  He’s in the top 15 in IP and top 25 in Ks.  He’s 15th in WHIP and 10th in BAA.  Just like with Burnett, it’s the ERA that is the clincher.

SP        Max Scherzer             9-7, 2.12 ERA, 143 Ks, 123 IP, 0.80 WHIP, 3 CG, 2 SHO

This is the guy I think is having the best season in the NL right now.  He is 3rd in ERA, 2nd in Ks, 1st in IP and tied for 2nd in Wins.  He also leads the league in WHIP, BAA, CG and is tied for the league lead in shutouts.  He’s my pick to start the game for the senior circuit.  Unfortunately, after pitching Sunday, he will miss the game.

SP        Michael Wacha          10-3, 2.93 ERA, 86 Ks, 107.1 IP, 1.10 WHIP

Wacha is having a solid year, but I don’t like this choice.  His ERA is 13th and he’s tied for 25th in Ks.  He doesn’t appear in the top 25 in IP, is 11th in WHIP and 12th in BAA.  His only elite number is Wins, where he is tied for second.  But recent trends have taught us how unpredictable Wins are, and they should not be weighed with the same amount of scrutiny as other pitching stats.  For that reason, I don’t think he’s a good choice to be on the roster.

RP       Mark Melancon         28/29 Saves, 1.54 ERA, 29 K, 41 IP, 0.98 WHIP

Melancon was a good selection.  NL All Star Game manager Bruce Bochy, unlike his AL counterpart Ned Yost, only selected closers for his relief slots.  I think closers are a better choice than middle relievers for an All Star game, but I still think you only need 2, if any at all.  It’s hard not to pick Melancon.  He leads the NL in Saves and has an excellent 1.47 ERA, miniscule 0.95 WHIP and very strong 210 BAA.  While he leads the NL in Saves, I still think he’s my number 3 man, which means he wouldn’t be on my team.

RP       Jonathan Papelbon   14/14 Saves, 1.60 ERA, 35 K, 33.2 IP, 0.98 WHIP

Papelbon is having a good year.  Also, the Phillies had to have a representative and Papelbon was probably the best choice (over Hamels).  He’s played well with better than 1 K per inning and an excellent ERA and perfect Save record.  His WHIP and BAA are excellent.  He doesn’t get a lot of Save opportunities with a bad team.  Hard to blame him for that.  I think he’s a good choice, but I wouldn’t have picked him.

RP       Francisco Rodriguez  19/19 Saves, 1.41 ERA, 37 K, 32 IP, 0.88 WHIP

He’s another good choice.  He’s got a perfect Save record and has better than 1 K per inning.  He also has an excellent WHIP and miniscule BAA.  He’s another one of those guys, like Papelbon, having a good year, despite fewer Saves.  Solid pick again (if I liked relievers for the All Star roster).

RP       Trevor Rosenthal      25/26 Saves, 1.49 ERA, 43 K, 39.1 IP, 1.04 WHIP

Rosenthal was having the best season among closers, until one bad outing pulled his totals up.  I updated his ERA from 0.69 (where it was when he was selected) to what it is now.  His other totals have come up too.  He’s still got the third most Saves, a great ERA and WHIP and miniscule BAA.  I had him as my number 1 closer when he was selected, but now his numbers aren’t necessarily the best.  That being said, you can’t know what will happen in the future.  So he was one of the two I would have selected.  Though, in retrospect, Melancon would have been a better choice based strictly on the numbers.

RP       Aroldis Chapman      17/18 Saves, 1.73 ERA, 62 K, 36.1 IP, 1.18 WHIP

Chapman is also having a good year.  He is playing for a struggling team so that is hurting his Save total.  But he’s got more Ks than any other reliever in the NL and a solid ERA.  His WHIP is ok, but his BAA is phenomenal.  It also doesn’t hurt that he plays in Cincinnati where the All Star game is happening, though I try not to take that stuff into consideration.  The fact that he throws 106 MPH and leads all relievers in Ks makes him a good choice, even without having the most Saves.  I would have voted for him as one of my two closers.

NL Snubs

There are 3 types of snubs.  Guys who are on the team but should be starting, guys who should be on the team but aren’t and guys who should be starting, but aren’t even on the team.  I’ll go through each position and list anyone I think was snubbed.

C          Derek Norris

I’d put Norris in ahead of Yadier Molina, but this isn’t a huge snub.  I think Norris’ superiority in HR (second), RBI (third) and R (second) puts him ahead of Molina who is only ahead in AVG and plays better defense.  I wouldn’t have him start, but think he should be on the team ahead of Molina.

1B       Nobody

Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman are worthy of mention, but haven’t played well enough to dethrone any of the first basemen ahead of them.

2B       Nobody

Howie Kendrick has had a good year, but doesn’t necessarily belong on the list ahead of anyone else. 

SS        Troy Tulowitzki

This is one of the biggest snubs.  I know he’s missed some time, but he’s played in 69 games.  That’s enough to be worthy of a selection, especially when he leads all true NL shortstops in AVG, is tied for third in HR, is tied for first in R and is second in RBI.  I like him not only to be on the team, but also to start ahead of Peralta and Crawford.  I’d have Tulo start, Crawford back him up and then maybe not even carry Peralta and save his spot for Votto or an outfielder.

3B       Nobody

There are a lot of good third basemen this year.  But I think the top 3 are on the team.

OF       Charlie Blackmon, Ryan Braun, Starling Marte

Blackmon (291/11 HR/40 RBI/5 R/23 SB) is probably the biggest snub on the list.  He’s 8th in AVG, tied for 12th in HR and 13th in RBI.  But he’s 4th in R and 2nd in SB.  He’s also playing a good center field in the cavernous Coors outfield.  I like him ahead of Holliday, Pederson and McCutchen.

Braun won’t get a lot of votes anymore due to his PED suspensions, but he’s having a good year.  Braun (275/16 HR/56 RBI/51 R/12 SB) is 4th in HR, 3rd in RBI and 5th in R with a solid AVG and some speed.  I’d pick him ahead of Holliday and Pederson.

Starling Marte (279/13 HR/49 RBI/45 R/16 SB) is my last snub.  He’s 10th in AVG, tied for 7th in HR, 5th in RBI, 10th in R and 7th in SB.  He’s another guy I like more than Holliday and Pederson.  I think he’s right up there with McCutchen. 

There are lots of good outfielders in the NL this year.  I like Harper and Stanton, then probably A.J. Pollock to start.  But after them, I’d go with Justin Upton, Charlie Blackmon, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun in that order.  Pederson and Holliday are further down the list and I think bad choices.

P          Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Martinez, Jake Arrieta

Well two of these guys are in the final vote.  And we already know both got in to the All Star game.  So let’s just look at Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta is continuing his strong second half with the Cubs last year.  He’s 8th in the league with a 2.66 ERA.  At 10-5, he’s tied for 2nd in wins.  His 123 Ks are 5th in the league.  He’s also 4th in IP.  I like him better than Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Madison Bumgarner and all the relievers.  He’s a major snub as far as I’m concerned. 

NL Final Vote

SP        Johnny Cueto             6-6, 2.73 ERA, 113 Ks, 118.2 IP, 0.90 WHIP, 1 CG
SP        Carlos Martinez         10-3, 2.52 ERA, 113 Ks, 107.1 IP, 1.22 WHIP
SS        Troy Tulowitzki         313/10 HR/49 RBI/44 R
SP        Clayton Kershaw       6-6, 2.85 ERA, 160 Ks, 123 IP, 1.02 WHIP, 1 CG
RP       Jeurys Familia            27/29 Save, 1.25 ERA, 43 K, 43.1 IP, 0.90 WHIP

To start, I’d eliminate Familia as he’s a reliever and I don’t think they have enough of an impact in a game to be All Stars.

Out of the starting pitchers, I think Cueto, though my favorite player out of the three, has the worst stats out of the group.  Even though he’s the local hero, I think Kershaw and Martinez are better options.

Out of those two, I like Kershaw better because he is so dominant and leads the league in Ks.  His ERA is good too, though not as good as Martinez’s.  His WHIP is better and he throws more innings. Martinez is good, but I give the edge to Kershaw.

So the question now is what is more impressive between Kershaw’s pitching stats and Tulo’s hitting stats.  An apples and oranges comparison.  I’ll give the edge to Kershaw because he’s been so dominant out there.  But it’s really close and I feel both players deserve to be All Stars.

Luckily both are.  Kershaw and Tulowitzki were named to the team as replacements.  Carlos Martinez won the final vote and is also in the game.  Honestly I think he won because Tulo and Kershaw made the team as replacements.  I think Arrieta would be a better option, but what can you do.

Okay, the All Star game is tonight.  I’m picking the NL to win, 8-5.  No science behind that.  Just seems like a good guess to me.  I can’t wait to watch it.