Monday, July 9, 2012

NL All Star Roster

I’ve taken a look at the AL All Star roster and given my thoughts.  I’m going to do the same with the NL.

National League


C:                        Buster Posey SF- Fans choose the starters of the All Star team.  And that’s often a mistake.  Posey is a young, exciting player who carried the Giants to a World Series a few years back.  However he is, at best, the 3rd best catcher in the NL this season.  His 300 AVG is third best in the league as are his R and HR numbers.  He’s 4th in RBI.  None of those numbers are bad.  But Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies is first in AVG, HR, RBI and R.  He’s also better behind the plate.  Yadier Molina of the Cards is second in all those categories.  The Giants fans did a good job getting out there and getting Melky Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Cain in the game.  They all belong.  But hometown favorite Posey not only shouldn’t be starting, I wouldn’t have him in the game period.  This is one of the worst choices of the fans this season.

1B:                        Joey Votto CIN- This one they got right, but it was pretty easy.  Joey Votto has the highest WAR in baseball and is the best player in the NL.  He’s been better than Josh Hamilton for the last few months and is rapidly overtaking him for the title of best player in baseball this year. 

2B:                        Dan Uggla ATL- Uggla hits a lot of homers.  Chicks, and apparently most fans, dig the long ball.  Hiss 11 HR are tied for first in the league amongst second basemen.  His RBI are second to Brandon Phillips.  However his 231 AVG is way down on the list.  Brandon Phillips has a legitimate gripe at being passed over with a better AVG, more RBI and only 1 less HR.  He’s also a lot better in the field.  But the best candidate isn’t either one of them.  That man is Aaron Hill of the Diamondbacks.  He’s got the second best AVG of all second basemen (behind Houston’s Jose Altuve) and is tied with Uggla for the lead in HR.  He’s third in RBI and first in SB.  He is possibly the biggest snub in baseball, and should not only be on the team, but should also be starting.

SS:                        Rafael Furcal STL- No one really ran away with the lead in this position.  Furcal has played well hitting 275 with the most R among shortstops.  Other worthy candidates are Starlin Castro and Ian Desmond, both of whom are among the reserves.  I’d have gone with one of them over Furcal to start, but at least all are on the team.  It’s close.  One guy is missing completely, but I’ll cover that in my snubs section.

3B:                        Pablo Sandoval SF-  This is a head scratcher.  Kung Fu Panda has played well in limited time, but no third basemen has been anywhere near David Wright in terms of production.  He leads all third basemen in AVG and has more HR and RBI than Sandoval, though he’s played more games.  But Wright was flirting with 400 for a long time and is easily the best third basemen in the league this season.  Once again, a tip of the hats to Giants fans for getting the vote out there, but that’s a reason fans shouldn’t pick the starters.  Wright is the only option to start this game.  Anyone else is a mistake and doesn’t belong in the same conversation as the dynamic Met.

OF:                        Matt Kemp LAD- The best player in the NL before he got hurt.  He was in the conversation for best player in baseball with Josh Hamilton before he went down and had a setback.  Kemp had 30 R in 36 games.  Add a 355 AVG and 12 HR to that, and Kemp was on a mission to be the MVP of the league.  He’s hurt still and won’t be in the game.  But he was an obvious choice to be in the game and hopefully will come back strong.

OF:                        Carlos Beltran STL- Beltran is having a comeback year in St. Louis.  His 63 RBI lead the majors and his 20 HR are near the top.  He’s also hitting 304.  I like Beltran on this team.  I’d have gone with Ryan Braun or Carlos Gonzalez to start, but Beltran would have been after them.  He certainly belongs on the team and I’m okay with him starting.

OF:                        Melky Cabrera SF- The NL hits leader deserved a spot on the team.  I thought he deserved to start and the fans agreed.  He’s hitting 352 with over 50 R and 10 SB.  I have him as a starter, and easily in the top 5 outfielders in this league.


2B:                        Jose Altuve HOU- I’m a big fan of Altuve.  It’s hard not too root for the smallest guy in the majors.  But while he has more than enough accomplishments to be on this team (best AVG amongst second basemen, second in R and SB) the fact that the best second baseman in the league isn’t on the team makes everyone who is there seem undeserving.  There are 4 really good second basemen in the NL this season that I could see being on the team.  However I doubt I’d have all 4 of them.  Out of those 4, Altuve is at best the number 3 guy in my opinion, possibly number 4.  He’s had a good season and is a good choice for a reserve, but with Brandon Phillips and likely Aaron Hill watching the game from home, his presence seems undeserved.

OF:                        Ryan Braun MIL- Braun is, in my opinion, one of the best outfielders in the NL this season.  I think with Matt Kemp missing the game, you could make an argument for him to start, specifically over Carlos Beltran, though he’s been fantastic too.  He’s had a great season and belongs on the roster.

OF:                        Jay Bruce CIN- Bruce is having a traditional Jay Bruce season.  Middling average with great power.  The only thing that’s different is that his speed seems to have disappeared in the last few years.  But as much as I like Bruce and his slugging potential, I think he shouldn’t be on this roster.  It’s not as much about him being there, as it is who they left off to give him a spot.  Michael Bourn (who ended up making the team as an injury replacement) has the top WAR for NL outfielders and leads them all in SB.  And he does all that while hitting 310.  His teammates in the outfield are 4th and 5th in WAR.  One is hitting 322 with 46 R and 9 SB, while the other is hitting 270 with 13 HR and 11 SB.  I’m not saying you have to hit for a high AVG to make the All Star team (though it helps), but Bruce’s 256 is low comparatively, and he doesn’t offset it with much else besides his 17 HR.  A good number, but with others hitting more HR, a lot with better AVGs and him near the middle in RBI and R, I think there were many more deserving candidates.

SS:                        Starlin Castro CHC- This was a good choice.  I have him as the best NL shortstop, which isn’t a position rich with stars.  I’d have given him the nod to start over Furcal, but it’s close.  At least both are on the team.  One of their shortstop brethren is missing, and has no business watching the All Star game from home. (tune in to my All Star Snubs post to find out who)

SS:                        Ian Desmond WAS-  Desmond has the highest WAR out of all NL shortstops.  His 279 AVG is very good and his 14 HR are tied for the league lead (among shortstops).  He also has 8 SB.  He’s got a pretty good argument to start too.  This past week he’s had has vaulted him into the number one spot in my eyes, but Furcal has played well so I’m just happy that both are on the team.  Desmond will miss the game due to injury, but he is deserving of a spot.

OF:                        Carlos Gonzalez COL- Gonzalez is having another great year.  His 340 AVG is 3rd among NL outfielders.  He’s also near the top in HR (17), RBI (58), R (59) and has 10 SB.  He’s not leading any categories, but is very competitive in all of them.  In a year where there are a lot of good NL outfielders, Carlos is one of the best, and has every right to be on this roster. 

1B:                        Bryan LaHair CHC- That brings us to Bryan LaHair, who was just supposed to keep a spot warm for Anthony Rizzo in Chicago.  But he apparently wasn’t privy to the plan as he’s hit like crazy this season.  They still brought up Rizzo, but LaHair played well enough that they taught him to play right field so he can stay with the big league club.  He’s hitting 289 with 14 HR, 30 RBI and 32 R for the last place Cubs.  The Cubs had to have a representative, and he’s the most worthy candidate.  After Votto, the first base position drops off rapidly and LaHair isn’t a bad choice as a backup.  But Paul Goldschmidt is hitting 302 for the Diamondbacks and has chipped in 11 HR, 37 RBI and 35 R.  And Alan Craig and Adam LaRoche also have an argument for being on the team.  LaHair isn’t a bad choice, but I’d have gone with Goldschmidt or Craig backing up Votto.

OF:                        Andrew McCutchen PIT- My only beef with this pick is that McCutchen has a legitimate beef about not being a starter.  However with Matt Kemp out, he might be next in line for a starting job.  And he heated up after the voting was done.  He went from good enough to be on the team, to so good that he should be starting.  His WAR is second among NL outfielders and his 358 AVG is tied for first.  In addition to hitting for a high AVG, he’s slugged 16 HR and stolen 14 bags.  His 54 RBI and 53 R rank near the top in the NL.  He’s having an incredible year and has every right to be on this team.

C:                        Carlos Ruiz PHI- The top catcher in the NL should be starting.  Ruiz has the top WAR among NL catchers and his AVG is also the best.  He leads the league in HR, RBI and R.  He is the obvious choice for starter.  He’s been hot the last few weeks and has separated himself from Yadier Molina to take over the title of best catcher in the NL this season.  He should be starting and there is no room for Buster Posey on this roster.

C:                        Yadier Molina PHI- A reserve, and deservedly so.  He should be the number 2 catcher on this roster, not the number 3.  Not as good as Ruiz this season, but much better than Posey.  He’s second in every major catching category and superior to Posey.

OF:                        Giancarlo Stanton MIA- Another situation where the team had to have a representative.  Stanton is the best option in Miami.  His 283 AVG is good and his 19 HR are third among NL outfielders.  He’s playing well with 50 RBI and 45 R.  He’s played well enough to be on the team.  The only knock against him is that the NL outfield is filled with talented guys, many who were left off the All Star roster, some who were much more deserving of being there than him.

3B:                        David Wright NYM- And lastly we have one of the best hitters in the NL this season.  Wright’s 354 AVG is 4th in the league and first out of all third basemen.  His 4.8 WAR is the best out of that group as well.  He leads them all in RBI and R, while he’s near the top with 11 HR and 8 SB.  He’s played in more games than Sandoval, which explains the better numbers. But he’s also better in the field and still has a higher AVG.  Sandoval is playing well in limited time.  But this was one of the worst calls of all the fans, even worse than the catcher debacle.  David Wright should be the starter this year.  There is no question.  This is why the fans shouldn’t elect the starters.


SP:                        Matt Cain SF- Mr. Perfecto is a great choice to be on this squad.  He’s second in the league in IP (by .1 IP) and has a 9-3 record.  He’s got a 2.62 ERA (5th best in the NL) and close to 9 Ks per 9 IP.  This was an easy choice.

SP:                        R.A. Dickey NYM- Arguably the best pitcher in the majors this season, Dickey has the best record in the league at 12-1.  He ranks in the top 5 in ERA and IP while striking out 9.23 batters per 9 IP.  Dickey belongs on this team, and should get the start in my opinion.

SP:                        Gio Gonzalez WAS- Gonzalez is tied with Dickey for the league lead in Wins with 12.  In his first season with the Nats, he’s outpitching young phenom, Stephen Strasburg.  He’s second in the league in K/9 and has a 2.92 ERA.  The NL is loaded with good pitching, and this guy has been one of the best this season.

SP:                        Stephen Strasburg WAS- The most exciting pitcher in baseball is having a great season as well.  He sits at 9-4, behind his teammate Gio Gonzalez.  But his 2.82 ERA is better and he’s the only person in the league with a better K/9 than Gonzalez, as he Ks over 11 guys per 9!  He is a joy to watch.  Hopefully the Nationals front office won’t follow through with that inning limit so we can watch him all year (I think the limit is 150 IP and he’s already at 99).  I think starters are coddled and Nolan Ryan proved they can be pushed in Texas with his young pitchers’ successes.  But I don’t pay his paycheck, so I understand their caution.  Anyway, he absolutely belongs on this All Star roster.

SP:                        Cole Hamels PHI-  Another pitcher attached to the “best pitcher in the league this year” conversation.  Hamels was on fire to start things off, then slacked off a bit after his boneheaded decision to bean Bryce Harper and admit he did it on purpose.  I guess having one of the best seasons of his life was not enough for him, and he wanted to get a different type of headline.  His justification, Harper was a rookie and rookies need to be taught a lesson by veterans.  I guess as a young starter in this league he got squeezed on a couple calls.  So he punished those umpires by drilling a young outfielder between the shoulder blades.  Anyway, that takes away from the great season he’s had, and sure enough I’ve spent more time talking about that than his accomplishments.  But he’s 10-4 for a struggling Phillies club this year.  He’s got a 3.20 ERA and Ks 9 hitters per 9.  The 3.20 is great, but looks average in comparison to all these sub 3 guys.  In the end, Hamels is having a great season and no matter what he says or does, he belongs on this squad….which now includes Bryce Harper.

SP:                        Lance Lynn STL- The Cardinals always seem to have a surprise stud in the starting rotation.  From Chris Carpenter years ago, to Adam Wainwright in 2010 to Kyle Lohse last season.  This year’s incarnation is Lance Lynn, who is second in the league with 11 Wins.  He’s got a solid 3.41 ERA, which is actually pretty good, but looks bad compared to his All Star compatriots.  He’s got over 9 Ks per 9 and over 100 IP.  He’s having a great season, and is a good choice to represent the redbirds in the All Star game.

SP:                        Clayton Kershaw LAD- Kershaw has followed up his Cy Young season with a strong first half in 2012.  The Dodgers are playing well, but Kershaw is only 6-5.  However he’s got a strong 2.91 ERA and leads the league in IP. This one was a no brainer.

SP:                        Wade Miley ARI- The big surprise in Arizona this season is the strong performance of Wade Miley.  Miley is 9-5 for a struggling Diamondback team.  He’s got a 3.04 ERA and over 100 IP.  He’s not overpowering, but hits his spots and gets outs.  He’s dependable and eats innings.  I doubt he’s a future Cy Young winner, but he’s pitched well enough this season to warrant a trip to Kansas City.

RP:                        Joel Hanrahan PIT- Hanrahan is having a fantastic season for the upstart Pirates.  He’s second in the league with 23 Saves and has a 2.38 ERA.  With his K numbers and low BAA, I have him down as the second best reliever in the league, and an obvious choice to be in the All Star game.

RP:                        Aroldis Chapman CIN- Chapman was the player’s pick.  WAR has him as the best reliever in the NL.  He’s recently taken over the closer’s role, which helped earn him a spot in the Mid Summer classic, even though he only has 10 Saves.  He’s got a 1.88 ERA and has over 16 Ks/9 IP.  He throws 105 MPH.  His numbers wouldn’t have gotten him in the past, because middle relievers almost never make the team.  But he’s now a closer, and is dominant.  I understand why the players chose him.  No one wants to face him at any point, especially at the end of the game.

RP:                        Craig Kimbrel ATL- The best reliever in the NL this season.  Kimbrel leads the league with 24 Saves and a sparkling 1.41 ERA.  He’s got almost as many Ks per 9 as Chapman (over 15) and is dominant.  48 of his last 81 outs have come from strikeouts.  He throws a shade under 100 MPH, and that’s both his 4 seamer and his 2 seamer which has some movement. Add to that a devastating slider, and I think we will be seeing Kimbrel in the All Star game not only this season, but many seasons to come.

RP:                        Jonathan Papelbon PHI- Not crazy about this pick.  He’s got 18 Saves, but a 3.45 ERA.  He’s pitched poorly at home and with the Phillies struggling has played in a lot of non-save situations.  He’s a great pitcher, but isn’t having the season of some of his closer brethren.  Santiago Casilla and Jason Motte both have more Saves and lower ERAs.  Papelbon plays on the Phillies and is rather popular.  But his performance this year has been lackluster.  I’d have gone with other relievers, or possibly more of the deserving starters.

RP:                        Huston Street COL- Another head scratcher.  Street has played well with a 1.17 ERA and 13 Saves.  But he’s only played in 24 games.  How can he be having one of the best seasons among NL relievers when he hasn’t been playing?  I like Street, and think he’s playing well.  But I think Street and Papelbon should have been replaced with Casilla and Motte.

So that’s the NL.  There were a couple picks I didn’t like.  But there are so many good pitchers in the NL, it’s hard to say anyone was unworthy.  The only argument would then be who is the most deserving.  I’m looking forward to watching these two teams square off Tuesday night.  

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