In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played last week, here is my American League All-Star team. Better late than never. 21 position players, 13 pitchers, each team represented (as much as this pains me, I suppose since the roster is so damn big, everyone should have a guy there at the very least…though they don’t do that in the NFL). (S) for starter. Comments below each position. The AL team was actually not that hard to pick. Not as many great candidates as one may think.
C: Salvador Perez, KC (S), Yan Gomes, Cle
Perez is pretty much a no-brainer. Gomes is my choice as the backup. Plays full-time and numbers are decent enough. MLB took Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki as backups. Those guys have OK numbers, but split time with others on their team. If you can’t play full time on your own team, you are not an All-Star. There are better candidates for Minnesota than Suzuki. I see no use for 3 catchers either, especially when the pool is thin. Put it this way, if AJ Pierzynski hits like he normally has in his career, he may have been the backup. And he just got released.
1B: Jose Abreu , CWS (S), Miguel Cabrera, Det
Either way is fine. Miggy is still great, though homers are down. Can’t ignore the rookie’s numbers. Yeah, they are calling him a rookie. Albert Pujols was actually back to meriting consideration here, but felt like he didn’t have enough, comparatively speaking.
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Robinson Cano, Sea, Ian Kinsler, Det, Brian Dozier, Minn
Not enamored with taking 4 second basemen. But the first 3 are legit. And despite the low average, Dozier fits as the best Minnesota candidate, in my opinion. Suzuki was a lukewarm option and the only other legitimate option was probably closer Glen Perkins. Decided his numbers weren’t dominating enough to add to the squad.
3B: Adrian Beltre, Tex (S), Kyle Seager, Sea, Josh Donaldson, Oak
Did you know that Beltre had over 2,500 career hits? Neither did I, until recently. He keeps doing what he is doing for a couple more years and now we are talking Hall of Fame consideration. I feel like this came out of nowhere. Seager is having a nice year. Donaldson has a low average, but has the power numbers. Was an MVP candidate last year and team is doing great this year, so feel like he is a worthy candidate in the end.
SS: Derek Jeter, NYY (S), Alexei Ramirez, CWS
Been through all this in the previous Jeets post. Weak crop. Erick Aybar? No thanks. JJ Hardy? Maybe, but where has the power gone? Wonder if the Red Sox left Bogaerts at short and he was something like .280/8/40 by now instead of slumping horrifically…maybe he gets a third nod at SS. What is done is done, however.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Adam Jones, Bal (S), Michael Brantley, Cle (S), Jose Bautista, Tor, Brandon Moss, Oak
Trout and Jones are obvious. You could argue Bautista over Brantley, but really doesn’t matter. Moss is a nice story, but also having a pretty good year. So he makes the cut. Maybe could make a case for Cespedes, but took Moss instead. Alex Rios is having a decent year, without power though. Alex Gordon? Nah. And Melky Cabrera was .301/11/44, last I looked…just couldn’t consider it overall though.
DH: Nelson Cruz, Bal (S), Victor Martinez, Det, Edwin Encarnacion, Tor
‘Nuff said. Lots of numbers here. David Ortiz always wins this vote by a landslide. Not this year. He can’t even make the team with these guys.
P: Felix Hernandez, Sea (S), Masahiro Tanaka, NYY, Jon Lester, Bos, Max Scherzer, Det, Chris Sale, CWS, Yu Darvish, Tex, Scott Kazmir, Oak, Garrett Richards, LAA, David Price, TB, Corey Kluber, Cle, Koji Uehara, Bos, Fernando Rodney, Sea, Greg Holland, KC
My inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers. Great starters are infinitely more important to their team and that is why they get the big bucks, as they say. Closers historically get hot for a year or three, but unless they are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, they inevitably fail and fall back into middle relief or the minors or out of baseball. Very few of the elite ones that can do it for 10 years plus. Middle relievers are usually failed starters AND closers. So even though they can be dominant, it usually doesn’t last. And if it does, they will go back to another key role. But look at two middle reliever All-Stars from last year, Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil, both from the Blue Jays. Both are no better than average (maybe worse) this year. Hideki Okajima was an All-Star in 2007 for the Red Sox…no idea where he is now. I do get that sometimes middle relievers are key…such as if they come in with the sacks juiced and 1 out in the 7th inning and have a 1 run lead…while the closer comes in fresh at the start of the 9th with a 3 run lead and gets credited with a save. If they both close the door, who is really better? But we all know getting the last few outs can sometime take a different animal, mentally for sure. So I give some leeway for that.
Anyway, King Felix is a pretty obvious choice to start, though if Tanaka was healthy and if Sale didn’t miss time, arguments could be made for them as well. Scherzer’s ERA is high, but he is still pretty dominant and is reigning Cy Young winner, so can’t complain there. Lester and Price don’t have the win/loss record, and Price’s ERA is also higher than I would like. But Jon belongs with his overall numbers and Price is Tampa’s rep. Richards and Kluber kind of came out of nowhere, but both have excellent ERAs and average over a strikeout an inning, so are worthy. Kazmir is a nice story having a nice year. Can’t exclude Darvish as well…good numbers on a bad (though injury ravaged) team. Mark Buehrle made the real team, but despite his 10-1 start (now 10-6), his overall numbers just didn’t compare. Didn’t see a lot of other starter candidates for the team out there really. Dallas Keuchel? John Lackey? Nope and…nope.
As for the relievers, Koji has been dominant since he took the role midseason last year. No-brainer there for me. Rodney has been very good and Holland has been as well. As stated earlier, maybe could’ve made a case for Perkins. The other big admission was Sean Doolittle of the A’s. Having an outstanding year, but still leaving him off. Why? Going back to the middle relief thing. A great deal of his numbers were accumulated as a middle reliever. And he gets penalized for that unfortunately, in my world. Jake McGee has closed some games and pitched great. Same deal. Zach Britton of the Orioles too. Wade Davis and Dellin Betances have been exclusively middle relievers. And have been dominant. But not All-Stars in my book.