2016 MLB American League All-Stars
In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game selections being announced Tuesday, I present my American League All-Star picks. 21 position players, 13 pitchers, with each team represented (I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule). (S) for starter. Comments below each position.
C: Salvador Perez, KC (S)
There will be three catchers selected for the actual game. How they are going to pick the other two is beyond me. Have you seen the list of all the AL catchers? There is no one else even remotely qualified. So I am not picking more than one here. There are two other guys that I pick later for my team that have catching experience. They can be my backups if necessary. You know, if this game was played on more than this “paper” I “write” on. Perez likes to catch every inning of every game anyway. Done.
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Det (S), Chris Davis, Bal, Eric Hosmer, KC
Cabrera’s year seems to be flying a little under the radar. Maybe because it’s not as insane as usual. But he’s putting up some numbers again, in case you didn’t know. Davis isn’t hitting below .200 this year. .242 isn’t that exciting, but it’s enough with the power numbers he puts up. Hosmer can close out the game with his elite glove. But his offense is improved over the past season and a half and he has some good production in the first half of this year. Plus, well, KC did win the World Series last year, no?
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Robinson Cano, Sea, Ian Kinsler, Det
Altuve is having a monster year. So even though it’s a nice comeback year for Cano, Jose has to be the choice here. 1 shy of his career high already with his 14 bombs. Leads the league in average and hits. 1 shy of the league lead in steals. Nice work. Glad to see Cano is back, as noted. Kinsler seems to be the 2nd best Ian in the league this year, but it works out for him that he is the best one at his position.
3B: Josh Donaldson, Tor (S)
Looks like I am taking only one third basemen here too. But plenty of other guys on my team can (and do) play third. They are just listed elsewhere since they’ve played more at other positions. You’ll see. Oh wait, Cabrera can also play 3b of course. As can Davis! Anyway, two guys I left off here are Evan Longoria and Kyle Seager though. Close, but decided someone else would represent Tampa in Longoria’s case. And Seager was a little behind Evan. Oh, and Donaldson is one of the backup catchers on this roster too. Good thing like 8 other guys have 3b experience!
SS: Manny Machado, Bal (S), Xander Bogaerts, Bos, Eduardo Nunez, Min
This year’s shortstop crop is a lot stronger than the past couple of years. Machado and Nunez are listed here because they have both played a handful more games at short than at third. So, you see they can back up 3b on my team also. Hell, even X can, with his experience there as the immortal Stephen Drew slid into that position in Boston in 2014…for whatever reason that was. I would’ve loved to find room here also for Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. Maybe I should have anyway. But they will have plenty more chances. Nunez had to be here unfortunately because who else could you possibly take from the Twins this season? But at least his numbers are pretty good, so he was a strong consideration at some position either way. Nice utility guy…follows up very nicely on Brock Holt’s selection to the game last year.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Ian Desmond, Tex (S), Jackie Bradley Jr., Bos (S), Mark Trumbo, Bal, Mookie Betts, Bos, Carlos Beltran, NYY
Just copy and paste Trout here for at least the next decade…unless he switches leagues at some point. Desmond had a rough start, but has come on huge. His transition to the outfield from being an error machine at short has been smooth. So smooth that he is playing mostly center field now. I actually tried to find a way to NOT add JBJ to the team at all. When I was putting this together, my initial sense was that yeah, he had that 29 game hitting streak and put up sick numbers in the midst of that. But what else has he done? Well, since the streak, he has been pretty good too. He remains sixth in the league in OPS. And when you factor in the glove, that gave him the last starting spot over Trumbo…since Trumbo has served as DH for almost half his games. Mookie is actually only 20th in the league in OPS, but you can’t argue with the overall numbers. At first glance I was like, Carlos Beltran? Really? But he belongs. And not because he will be the Yankee rep either. What, you wanted Michael Saunders here?? 7th in the league in OPS, Saunders is. Surprising. But I can’t see it.
DH: David Ortiz, Bos (S), Edwin Encarnacion, Tor, Victor Martinez, Det, Nelson Cruz, Sea
4 DH’s? Yup!! But in name only…kind of. Big Papi starts because it is allegedly his final year and I said so. Not to mention he leads the AL in OPS by .118. That’s kind of a pretty good lead. Edwin has played about a third of his games this year at first. He’s another guy that can play 3rd in a pinch. Cruz has played over 40% of his games in the outfield. So he can trot out there if needed. And Victor serves as my teams’ primary backup catcher too. We will take the bats any way we can get them!
P: Chris Sale, CWS (S), Danny Salazar, Cle, Cole Hamels, Tex, Rich Hill, Oak, Michael Fulmer, Det, Steven Wright, Bos, Aaron Sanchez, Tor, Marco Estrada, Tor, Andrew Miller, NYY, Zach Britton, Bal, Wade Davis, KC, Alex Colome, TB, Will Harris, Hou
As I’ve explained in the past, 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.
Unfortunately, this year it seemed I HAD to take 3 full-time closers (Britton, Davis, Colome) and 2 others that have closed for at least part of the year (Miller, Harris). For the 8 starters chosen, it’s basically Sale and everyone else. Ok, Salazar and Hamels have been pretty good too. But although Hill has been pretty dominant when on the mound, he has missed some time due to injury. Really had to be Oakland’s rep though. I couldn’t possibly feel good about taking Khris Davis or Danny Valencia. But with Hill, we are talking about a guy pitching in the independent leagues less than a year ago. Fulmer has also been pretty dominant, but came up from the minors after 6 weeks in the season had passed or so. Wright has been a revelation in Boston, since the rest of the rotation has been putrid, to be kind. But he’s a knuckleballer on a nice run. And also has a ton of unearned runs, which, well…he still did give up the runs, didn’t he? Estrada is somewhat uninspiring, though Sanchez has been way more than I think even Toronto expected. Maybe Jose Quintana has an argument, but it’s like 6 of one, half-dozen of the other I would say.
But because guys like King Felix, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, Sonny Gray, etc. have been mediocre, injured, downright atrocious or some combination of the three…these are your 8 starters in the All-Star Game folks!!
As for the ‘pen, Miller has been lights out since joining the Yanks last year. Almost 2 K’s per inning. Can’t argue his spot. Britton and Davis are elite closers. Colome is Tampa’s rep, for better or for worse. But he was real good before getting hurt. Harris has been an elite setup man for a couple of years in Houston now. He recently has grabbed the closer role and let’s wait and see if he has what it takes for that. But an 0.76 ERA currently would be hard to leave off the team. Sadly, I also actually gave strong consideration to another couple of middle relievers. Brad Brach of the O’s (1.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings) and Kelvin Herrera of the Royals (1.40 ERA in 38 2/3 innings). Just couldn’t pull those triggers though.
So there you go…NL to follow soon. As I still try to process the Kevin Durant news into some coherent thoughts…
Posted on July 5, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged All-Star Game, American League, Big Papi, Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale, Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson, Kansas City Royals, Manny Machado, mid-season, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, MLB, National League, Rich Hill, Robinson Cano, Xander Bogaerts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.