The Truly Deserving All-Stars
Tomorrow, MLB will announce the 2013 All-Star teams, and undoubtedly there will be some questions. Anytime you have fans electing players, there’s an overwhelming element of popularity, not necessarily performance. Players have their say as well, with the ability to select a few of the reserves, then the managers — Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Jim Leyland of Detroit — will fill out the enormous rosters of 33 players. I’m pretty sure I’ll disagree with the fans, who will elect the starting lineups, and most likely will disagree with the managers who select the reserves. After that process, and the rosters are announced on Saturday, fans once again will have the opportunity to make the final 34th selection for both teams.
That’s right. There are 34 players on each All-Star roster. So before we get to my selections, let’s think about that number 34. Of that number, 13 will be pitchers. That leaves 21 position players. If you took the two best players at each position, that accounts for only 16 spots, so if the fans totally screw up and elect a player who is not one of the best two at his position, there is room to cover that mistake, if the managers so choose. And inevitably, there will be the teams that have no true deserving All-Stars, like maybe Houston, Miami and the Cubs, for example. With 21 position players and 13 pitchers, I think there are enough roster spots available to cover that as well.
It’s time to end the argument about having every team represented costing deserving players All-Star recognition. Maybe some players are more deserving, but if players are not one of the best two at their respective position, they have no real argument in my mind. If you take away the rule that every team must be represented, then among the next dominoes to fall should be shrinking the roster to 28 and taking away the fans’ vote.
I like having the fans select the starting lineups. I like having every team represented. I don’t like tying anything about the All-Star Game to where World Series games are played, which is an ill-conceived idea.
But I’ll step off of the soapbox for now. Here are the players who would receive my vote:
(starting lineup and batting order)
LF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
The rising superstar isn’t having quite the season he put together last year, but he’s the best outfielder in the AL.
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston
There are several reasons the Red Sox quickly erased their struggles from a year ago, but Pedroia has had the biggest impact.
3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
There is currently no Cabrera-Trout debate for MVP this season — it’s all Miggy, who has 85 RBIs through the Tigers’ first 84 games.
1B Chris Davis, Baltimore
Actually, the MVP debate may be Davis-Cabrera, if there is a debate. Baltimore’s first baseman leads the majors with 32 home runs.
CF Adam Jones, Baltimore
Acquired in a heist from Seattle for pitcher Erik Bedard, Jones has played at an All-Star caliber level for the past five seasons in Baltimore.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Big Papi is the best DH alive, perhaps in history. He’s been in the top 10 in the AL in average, homers and RBIs for most of the first half.
RF Nelson Cruz, Texas
The Rangers’ right fielder makes the starting lineup because of his ability to hit in the clutch.
C Joe Mauer, Minnesota
OK, maybe his contract is becoming an albatross for Minnesota, but Mauer can still hit and is solid behind the plate.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit
The candidates at shortstop are few in the American League, but Peralta deserves to start even in a crowded field. Only Cabrera has a higher average on the AL Central leaders.
P Max Scherzer, Detroit
Most fans outside Detroit recognize the name Verlander much more quickly, but Scherzer is the Tigers’ best starter with a 13-0 record.
Sal Perez, C, Kansas City
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore
J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore
Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto
Clay Buchholz, P, Boston
Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Seattle
Felix Hernandez, P, Seattle
Chris Sale, P, Chicago
Bartolo Colon, P, Oakland
Yu Darvish, P, Texas
Justin Masterson, P, Cleveland
Glen Perkins, P, Minnesota
Mariano Rivera, P, New York
Joe Nathan, P, Texas
Jim Johnson, P, Baltimore
Grant Balfour, P, Oakland
(starting lineup and batting order)
LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
CarGo is on the short list of MVP candidates in the NL. His production could suffer without Troy Tulowitzki in the lineup for the Rockies.
CF Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh
Beyond Gonzalez, there are about six outfielders with equal arguments to start. But McCutchen makes the Pirates go and plays terrific defense.
DH Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Many players believe Votto is the best pure hitter in the game.
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The NL RBI leader deserves the start ahead of Votto at first this season, but maybe never again.
3B David Wright, New York
Quickly becoming Mr. Met in New York. The hometown fans will love seeing their superstar at the hot corner on the 16th.
C Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Widely considered the best defensive catcher in the majors, Yadi leads the NL in batting and has 45 RBIs. The Cardinals’ leader sits atop the MVP list for the first half.
2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis
Having never played second in the minors, and with just 18 innings at the position prior to this season, Carpenter leads all NL second basemen in batting average, runs, extra-base hits and OPS.
RF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
Surprise! The outfielder representing the Brew Crew is not named Braun.
SS Sean Segura, Milwaukee
In all fairness, Tulowitzki of Colorado deserves to be the All-Star shortstop, having put together a brilliant first half. But being able to take the field is important for an All-Star and Segura is having a stellar season for the Brewers.
P Matt Harvey, New York
Maybe Adam Wainwright is more deserving to start but not by much. But I can’t resist having the Mets’ youngster throw the first pitch in the midsummer classic in his home ballpark.
Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
Allen Craig, 1B, St. Louis
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego
Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati
Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia
Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado
Carlos Beltran, OF, St. Louis
Adam Wainwright, P, St. Louis
Clayton Kershaw, P, Los Angeles
Cliff Lee, P, Philadelphia
Patrick Corbin, P, Arizona
Jordan Zimmermann, P, Washington
Travis Wood, P, Chicago
Jose Fernandez, P, Miami
Jason Grilli, P, Pittsburgh
Craig Kimbrel, P, Atlanta
Edward Mujica, P, St. Louis
Jonathan Papelbon, P, Philadelphia
Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati