A look at who really deservers to make baseball's All-Star teams
Every season just before the Fourth of July, I put together my two All-Star teams and marvel at how my rosters differ from the fan vote, and to some degree the players’ and managers’ choices. But it’s usually the fans that are most off base. But I get it. This is a popularity vote. No matter how much MLB tries to convince fans that “This Time it Counts,” or some similar slogan, fans vote for their favorite players.
But I must say, the fans did a much better job this year. As usual, the Yankees showed well at the ballot box, as did the Giants in the National League with Buster Posey leading with more than 7 million votes. More votes were cast than ever as Josh Hamilton shattered the record by topping 11 million votes.
My rosters have 34 players, at least one representative from each team, a starter and backup at each position, and I didn’t ignore setup men like the managers did. Oh, just for fun, the starters appear below in my suggested batting order as well.
So, without further setup, here are my two 2012 MLB All-Star rosters.
CF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
Quickly, and awfully quietly, becoming one of the best all-around players in the NL, McCutchen has been clutch with the bat, his legs and with the glove for the surprising Pirates this season.
RF Carlos Beltran, St. Louis
The newest member of the 300-300 and 2,000-hit clubs leads the NL with 60 RBIs and is second to Ryan Braun with 20 home runs.
1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati
This may be the easiest selection of both leagues. Best pure hitter in the National League and best first baseman in baseball right now.
LF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
The Dodgers’ center fielder was having too good a season to leave off this team even though a balky hamstring has robbed him of more than a month.
3B David Wright, New York
The fans really blew this one. Wright, hitting .354, is leading all third basemen with 50 runs and 53 RBIs.
DH Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
The 2011 NL MVP had a rough offseason, but on the field picked up right where he left off last season.
2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
A handful of second sackers could start for the NL this season, but Phillips gets the nod because of his awesome defense.
SS Rafael Furcal, St. Louis
No one at the position especially stands out in the NL, but Furcal leads shortstops with 52 runs and has driven in 31 from his leadoff spot.
C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia
Anytime a catcher is leading the league in batting average, you have to allow him to start. Ruiz is batting .356, handles pitchers well and is tough to steal on.
SP R.A. Dickey, New York
Forget about Dickey being the best feel-good story this season; he’s the best starting pitcher in the NL this year. The Mets are 13-3 when he starts, 30-34 when he doesn’t.
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Molina has more home runs and RBIs than Ruiz, but his batting average is 44 points lower. A close call at backstop in the National League. Any of the three (with Ruiz and Posey) could start. All three can hit, handle pitchers and throw. But no catcher throws like Yadi.
C Buster Posey, San Francisco
I like having three catchers, but Posey offers some pop and is a tough out off the bench.
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
After a slow start, Goldschmidt is batting .327 with 19 doubles and 10 homers since May 1.
2B Jose Altuve, Houston
Don’t think this is a token appearance by an Astro, because Altuve can really play. He leads second basemen with a .308 average, but only half as many homers and RBIs as Phillips.
2B Aaron Hill, Arizona
I guess hitting for the cycle twice in 12 days earns an All-Star spot.
3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco
Even though the Panda missed 35 games with a wrist injury, he’s proven to be the second-best third sacker this year, keeping his average above .300 all season.
SS Ian Desmond, Washington
Desmond has the most pop at the position with 39 extra-base hits and 43 ribbies.
SS Starlin Castro, Chicago
Still learning nuances of the game, but he’s proving that his league-leading total of 207 hits last season was no fluke.
OF Melky Cabrera, San Francisco
With a .352 average, Cabrera deserves to start, but unfortunately, so do three other guys.
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
Fans got to know CarGo in 2010 as he chased the triple crown. After an injury-plagued 2011, he’s resumed the chase this season and resides among the top six in each of the three categories.
OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
It took a while for Stanton to get going, but his .915 OPS is eighth in the league and his 38 total bases rank fifth.
OF Dexter Fowler, Colorado
I know he was awful the first six weeks, but since May 27 he’s hit .348 with a 1.055 OPS to bring his average up to .289 and his season OPS to .926.
SP Matt Cain, San Francisco
Tossing the first perfect game in Giants history is enough to get Cain on the team, but he also has two shutouts and a 0.950 WHIP.
SP Gio Gonzalez, Washington
The Nationals have the best rotation in the NL and Gonzalez has been at the top of the rotation all season.
SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Even though the Nats are trying to limit his innings, Strasburg deserves an inning in K.C. on Tuesday.
SP James McDonald Pittsburgh
The Dodgers probably regret trading this rising star for a month of Octavio Dotel back in 2010.
SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
With Roy Halladay on the shelf and Cliff Lee still winless, the Phillies have relied on Hamels to stay afloat during the first half.
SP Wade Miley, Arizona
The Diamondbacks are 9-4 in his starts. They supported him with two, one, zero and two runs in those losses.
SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
The reigning Cy Young just edges teammate Chris Capuano.
RP Sergio Romo, San Francisco
Called on for a few save opportunities, Romo has a sub-1.00 WHIP and ERA.
RP Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
He may be the most feared pitcher in the game on Tuesday.
CL Tyler Clippard, Washington
Originally a setup man, Clippard is 13-for-13 in saves since taking over as closer in late May.
CL Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
Kimbrel has followed his tremendous rookie season with another dandy so far this season.
CL Huston Street, San Diego
He’s a perfect 12-for-12 in save opps and in 11 of those saves he’s faced no more than four batters. In 21 innings he has 28 Ks and given up only eight hits and six walks.
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
The Gold Glover in center is batting .302, has scored 52 runs and is now on the very short list for best player in the AL. Hamilton is the lone AL outfielder with more extra-base hits.
2B Robinson Cano, New York
The Yankees’ second baseman is arguably the best player in the league.
LF Josh Hamilton, Texas
Slowed some by injuries (surprise), Hamilton is having another MVP season.
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Perhaps the closest call in either lineup, Cabrera just edges Adrian Beltre in runs, homers and RBIs.
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago
Two of the best first basemen in the NL last season — Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder — now play in the AL, but Konerko has been the best this season.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Certainly Edgar Martinez has an argument, but Big Papi may be the best DH ever.
RF Jose Bautista, Toronto
Hitting only .239, but improving, Joey Bats still leads the league in bombs.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
One of the best defensive players in baseball, Cabrera owns the highest OPS among AL shortstops.
C A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago
Evidently the White Sox veteran is not the most popular among fans or players given that he wasn’t even selected to the squad. He’s our starter.
SP David Price, Tampa Bay
The hard-throwing lefty is tied for the AL lead with 11 wins.
C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Working on another batting title, Mauer is still among the elite catchers in the game.
C Matt Wieters, Baltimore
A defensive whiz, the switch-hitting Wieters can provide some punch at the plate. He’s batting .403 vs. lefthanders.
1B Prince Fielder, Detroit
The Tigers have been disappointing this season, but Fielder has not.
1B Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
First of all, how can you keep one of the game’s biggest stars out of this game? And secondly, he’s hitting .324 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 48 games since May 9.
2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland
Leading the Tribe in hits, RBIs and steals, Kipnis is also one of the best defenders at his position.
3B Adrian Beltre, Texas
The reigning Gold Glove winner is a beast with the bat as well.
SS Elvis Andrus, Texas
The best team in the AL is full of All-Stars.
OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
He’s batting .339 with a .938 OPS and leads AL outfielders with 22 stolen bases even though he spent the first month of the season in the minors.
OF Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles
Manager Mike Scioscia has had trouble finding a position for Trumbo, but with a .981 OPS and 20 jacks, he must be in the lineup everyday.
OF Austin Jackson, Detroit
Buoyed by a .404 OBP, the rising star is fifth among AL outfielder in OPS.
OF Curtis Granderson, New York
He doesn’t consider himself a power hitter, but he’s followed his 41-homer season with 23 by the break.
DH Billy Butler, Kansas City
It’s a shame that there aren’t more stars for the hometown fans.
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
The reigning Cy Young, MVP dude is having an “off” year with a 0.98 WHIP and 2.69 ERA.
SP Matt Harrison, Texas
He wasn’t selected merely as a favor from his manager. Harrison has a 1.42 ERA over his last eight starts — all Texas wins.
SP Jake Peavy, Chicago
One of four pitchers with a sub-1.00 WHIP in the AL.
SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
A stint on the DL didn’t keep Weaver, who leads the AL with a 0.92 WHIP, off the team.
SP Chris Sale, Chicago
Drafted in 2010, Sale leagues the league with a 2.27 ERA.
SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle
King Felix is having a fine season, but honestly he is the only All-Star on either roster who made it solely because every team must be represented.
RP Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles
Traded from San Diego in early May, he’s tossed 24.1 scoreless frames for the Halos.
RP Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland
He has 19 holds and only one blown chance.
RP Scott Downs, Los Angeles
If Ron Washington needs a lefty for a key out, Downs is one of the best.
CL Jim Johnson, Baltimore
He has been versatile throughout his career, but this season he’s proven he can close effectively.
CL Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay
After an awful 2011 season, the lights-out closer isn’t the first pitcher to re-establish himself with the Rays.
CL Ryan Cook, Oakland
Leads the A’s with 11 holds and is tied for team lead with seven saves. Didn’t allow a run in his first 21 appearances covering 23 innings.
- Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)