NL squad is below. 32 players selected, 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Each team is represented, as we know. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Willson Contreras, ChC (S), Yasmani Grandal, Mil
Pretty easy. J.T. Realmuto was the only other option. Moving on.
1B: Josh Bell, Pit (S), Freddie Freeman, Atl, Pete Alonso, NYM, Max Muncy, LAD, Rhys Hoskins, Phi
DEEP position this year. I wanted to find room for Anthony Rizzo (ChC)…and I should have. Even Eric Hosmer (SD) and his ridiculous contract have 57 RBIs this year. But…you know, team and position constraints kept those guys off. Even with five making it. Because, you know, there is no DH in the National League. So there’s room for at least these five. Bell starts, yup, highest OPS. But if you went Freeman or Alonso, no worries. Alonso…what a year for the rookie. Something for Mets fans to cheer about. Well, unless you like clubhouse confrontations with reporters, that is. I thought Muncy’s year last year was a total fluke. Count me wrong on that…again. Inexplicably, Hoskins is the Philly rep. Hope that 13-year contract for Bryce Harper works out over the last 12 years anyway.
2B: Ketel Marte, AZ (S), Mike Moustakas, Mil
Cut and dried here too. Maybe Ozzie Albies (Atl) gets some votes. Didn’t see this out of Marte? Neither did most. And Moose playing second? No problem. He just keeps hitting dingers. Looks like he will be playing more third these days, but since he started out the year at second and has played a smidge more games there, we are slotting him here.
3B: Anthony Rendon, Was (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC
Someone is going to pay Rendon a lot of money next offseason. Arenado is STILL getting penalized for being a Rockie. But you know what? We should actually be giving him some props. He got a sh%t-ton of money to stay in Denver. BUT, a lot of players STILL would have left. If he plays his whole career in Coors Field, he will glide into the Hall of Fame (barring injury. See: Helton, Todd). Anyone who leaves Colorado is foolish, in my opinion. They should take less money to stay. Helps their career. Anyway, we are still starting Rendon. Why? OPS is higher!! Bryant seems to be back on track. Plus he still plays the outfield. So there’s that. We also considered Eduardo Escobar (AZ). Yup, we did. And Manny Machado (SD). Not to be.
SS: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Trevor Story, Col
Paul DeJong (StL) and Dansby Swanson (Atl) merited consideration. But we are not there yet.
OF: Clay Bellinger, LAD (S), Christian Yelich, Mil (S), Juan Soto, Was (S), Ronald Acuna, Atl, Marcell Ozuna, StL, Charlie Blackmon, Col
Guess Yelich’s MVP year wasn’t a fluke, eh? So maybe Mookie’s was…which doesn’t help the writer. Anyway, Bellinger is apparently the real deal as well. Those two look like they will be fighting for the MVP this year. Another nice battle is between the kids, Soto and Acuna. We will be looking at them for years to come too. Soto gets the start, want to guess why? Hint: OPS!! Ozuna was taken over DeJong as remarkably the only guy from the Cards. Blackmon? Sigh…Colorado. But sometimes it is just impossible to ignore the pure numbers, regardless of the park. Jeez, even David Dahl (yes, Col) put himself in the mix this year. Hunter Renfroe (SD)? No room. Same can be said for Jeff McNeil (NYM) and his .341 average.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD, Mike Soroka, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Luis Castillo, Cin, Caleb Smith, Mia, Zack Greinke, AZ, Walker Buehler, LAD, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Will Smith, SF, Josh Hader, Mil, Kirby Yates, SD
Honestly, the only other guys I considered here were Cole Hamels (ChC) and Felipe Vazquez (Pit). Maybe even Chris Paddack (SD). But this was kind of an easy list here. An impressive one? Not really. But these are the guys. Ryu is having a tremendous year. 7 walks all year in 103 innings? Awesome! I like Max’s overall numbers better, however. If you want to start Ryu, no worries here. But those are the two candidates. Caleb Smith is a stretch, but he is the Marlin rep. Castillo, Yates and Will Smith are their teams’ respective reps, but those were easy calls, to be honest. To steal a quote from last years’ column, I wasn’t on the Yates bandwagon then, but am certainly now. deGrom isn’t putting up as sick numbers as he did last season, but they are still nice. Kershaw isn’t as dominant as he has been in the past, but he is still getting it done. Not much else to say here.
Sssssoooooo…lets see how we match up against the real selections…
No preamble this year. The real picks (besides the starters) come out later today. And I am going to beat them…I think for the first time ever.
32 players are selected. 20 position players, 12 pitchers. This time I am not cheating on the numbers. Each team will still be represented. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Gary Sanchez, NYY (S), James McCann, CWS
Sanchez is pretty obvious but McCann?? Yup. Actually, there were a few candidates for the backup job. Christian Vazquez (Bos), Josh Phegley (Oak), Robert Perez (Cle) or Omar Narvaez (Sea) would have suited just fine. McCann had the highest OPS of the five. Done.
1B: Carlos Santana, Cle (S), Luke Voit, NYY
Similar to catcher, Santana is clear-cut and then there were others that could have been selected instead of Voit. C.J. Cron (Min…after hitting 30 dingers for TB last year and getting released), Jose Abreu (CWS) or Edwin Encarnacion (Sea/NYY) could have filled this spot too. Voit had the highest OPS of the four. Done.
2B: DJ LeMahieu, NYY (S), Whit Merrifield, KC, Tommy La Stella, LAA
Tail between my legs on DJ. Although his glove is top-notch, I figured his offense was the product of Coors Field when he played half his games in Colorado. Whoops. In my defense, all of the major league teams apparently thought the same, including the Yankees themselves. When he signed in NY, with Gleybar Torres, Troy Tulowitski (until Didi Gregorius was healthy) and Miguel Andujar were supposed to handle 2B, SS & 3B, respectively. So where exactly was he going to play? 1B? Maybe. But they had Voit and Greg Bird already there too. People got hurt, DJ played and then made a lot of people look bad. I will accept that.
Merrifield is the Royal rep, but he has earned it. Even with the lack of steals this year. Hunter Dozier was really the only other KC candidate. But he has missed some time this year and sucked when he came up last year…so maybe it’s just a nice 50-something game run. I just realized Whit has played a bit more outfield this season than second, but I am going to leave him here. His versatility will be nice, as will La Stella’s. Speaking of sucking, La Stella is a journeyman. But thought he belonged. Took him over Brandon Lowe from the Rays, who doesn’t play against lefties and has fanned over 100 times already this year. As a middle infielder…yikes!
3B: Alex Bregman, Hou (S), Matt Chapman, Oak, Rafael Devers, Bos
Bregman was easy, Chapman was the A’s rep and Devers is having a breakout season. Yoan Moncada (CWS) is also having a breakout season, so if you put him over Devers I would not argue. But once again, Raffy has the higher OPS. Don…you get the point. Gio Urshela (NYY)? Nice season, but…no.
SS: Xander Bogaerts, Bos (S), Jorge Polanco, Min
No Francisco Lindor (Cle), who started late and hasn’t quite caught up yet. No Carlos Correa (Hou), who is hurt…again. Tim Anderson (CWS) started out blazing…and still has good numbers…and Elvis Andrus (Tex) is there too, but decided on just these two. Polanco won the real vote, but it looks like X has had the better season…and more established track record. For the record, I did not exclude Gleybar Torres because he is a New York Yankee. I excluded him because he has done a great deal of his damage against the wretched Baltimore Orioles. 10 of his 19 homers are against them, for instance. Enough said…for these purposes anyway.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), George Springer, Hou (S), Joey Gallo, Tex (S), Eddie Rosario, Min, Max Kepler, Min, Trey Mancini, Bal
Trout…yup. The best player on the planet, still. Springer and Gallo were a little tougher. They’ve both missed a whole slew of games. But have been dominant when healthy, so that gave them the nod. TWO Twin outfielders? Yup. Well deserved. Mancini is the Oriole rep. But don’t discount his numbers. Michael Brantley (Hou) and Domingo Santana (Sea) and even Austin Meadows (TB) have cases. Wouldn’t fight any of them. Mookie Betts? Last years’ American League Most Valuable Player? Wasn’t even a consideration for me, despite me being an unabashed homer. While I actually expect him to make the real team, he has…not been very good this year. Maybe the expectations are too high. But SHOULDN’T they be? He looks completely disinterested. I actually didn’t even have him on my initial list. Sorry.
DH: J.D. Martinez, Bos (S), Daniel Vogelbach, Sea
J.D. is not having the same season as he did last year, but he is the clear choice here. Hunter Pence got voted in as the starter in the real world and although he has put up some nice numbers for a surprising Texas team, I just can’t do it. Vogelbach has cooled after a hot start, but we chose him as the Mariner rep over Domingo. If you included Pence and Domingo and dropped Vogelbach and someone else…so be it. There was a pretty tight race to determine a great deal of the American League reserves so I am very interested to see what happens in real life. Can’t go wrong with several players.
P: Justin Verlander, Hou (S), Charlie Morton, Hou, Jose Berrios, Min, Jake Odorizzi, Min, Lucas Giolito, CWS, Mike Minor, Tex, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Matthew Boyd, Det, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Shane Greene, Det, Ken Giles, Tor, Aroldis Chapman, NYY
YIKES!!!!! THESE are the best American League pitchers this year??? For real?? Well, I guess Frankie Montas would have been too. Damn PEDs!!
The list is so thin, that despite starting the year so putridly, and sitting at 3-7, we still considered Chris Sale (Bos) for the staff. His ERA sits at 3.82. But with some of his peripherals (148 Ks in 101.1 innings, 1.03 WHIP and .212 batting average against), he may actually have a shot at making the REAL team. Hey, he has the track record. And has started three consecutive All-Star games. I am not ruling it out.
As for the staff I picked…Verlander is clearly going to start. Morton is #2. Cole’s and Bauer’s ERA are a little high, but hey, it’s the era I guess. Minor, Odorizzi and Giolito? Sigh…Boyd was going to be my Tiger rep until I realized I couldn’t leave Greene and his 0.90 ERA off. Giles has always been shaky, but he has a 1.33 ERA and is the only player I remotely considered from Toronto (my sincere apologies Eric Sogard and I guess Marcus Stroman). Brad Hand (Cle) and Roberto Osuna (Hou)? Perhaps. But these are my picks. As hard as it is to believe…
Next: The 2019 National League All-Stars…
It’s that time again. Except, the Blowhard is actually going to make his picks BEFORE the real game, as opposed to previous years. What a novel idea, eh? Anyway, 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the AL this year, simply because I could not leave one of the pitchers off, while I could have left several positional guys off. Plus, you already know we cheat on positions themselves. More of that to come as well. One rule we do not cheat on? Each team is represented. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Wilson Ramos, TB (S)
Wretched. There is literally only one catcher worth All-Star consideration in the entire league. All-Star mainstay Salvador Perez is hitting .213. Everyone’s wunderkind, Gary Sanchez, is hitting .190 and now hurt. I could go on. But why? Someone like Yan Gomes (.247, 10 homers), may well get the backup spot in real life. Or you can go with designated hitter Evan Gattis (.257, 18 homers, 62 RBI). And they may well do it. I was tempted to do it myself since we already went through how we cheat on positions. But Gattis has caught a grand total of FOUR innings this year. So even I cannot do it here. Since the position has been so poor, and we aren’t playing a real game, I’m sticking with just one catcher here.
1B: Jose Abreu, CWS (S)
Yup, just one guy here too. Abreu is the only White Sox remotely qualified for selection as well, so this is pretty obvious. No backups? Nope. Anyone can play first base. And this position is remarkably thin in the league as well. But maybe not “remarkably thin this year”, perhaps? Look back at the selections the Blowhard made at 1B last year: Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, Yonder Alonso and Abreu. Abreu has been legit for years. But those other three dudes predictably came crashing back to earth this season. Miggy Cabrera is well into the back nine and hurt again anyway. The person who may well be the backup this year in the real game…and I gave at least slight consideration to? Mitch Moreland. MITCH MORELAND!! But alas, I couldn’t pull the trigger on that one.
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Jed Lowrie Oak, Gleybar Torres, NYY
I gave serious consideration to starting Lowrie here. He’s having a hell of a year. 15 homers and 61 RBI? Wow. Good for him though. But couldn’t put him over Altuve in the end. Gleybar’s real-life chances may be somewhat torpedoed by his recent hip injury. But he deserves to be on my team. Yankee or no Yankee.
3B: Jose Ramirez, Cle (S), Yangervis Solarte, Tor, Alex Bregman, Hou, Mike Moustakas, KC
Ramirez is putting up sick numbers again, so that was easy. Solarte is far and away the Blue Jays rep. His numbers are decent enough. Bregman has been pretty hot and won Player of the Month in June. That helped grease the skids to get him on this roster. Plus…he’s pretty good anyway. Moose? Welp, the Royals traded away their actual representative in Kelvin Herrera. So it was between Moose, Whit Merrifield (?) and some pitcher named Keller that was in middle relief most of the year. Middle reliever that isn’t good enough to close and isn’t (wasn’t) good enough to start on a team that is almost 40 games under .500 already? Nope. Moose can also backup at first base on this team since teams now want him as a 1B and he has been playing there recently in the majors. Not to mention…the Blowhard actually met Moose last year at a game at Fenway. He graciously shook my hand when he could have just as easily punched me in the face. That alone is reason enough to put him on this team.
SS: Manny Machado, Bal (S), Francisco Lindor, Cle
You can start either one, doesn’t matter to me. Lindor has scored 36 more runs than Machado…THIRTY-SIX! Of course, the Orioles are horrific, so that doesn’t help Manny. But both are clear-cut here. Jean Segura is probably the last guy off my All-Star roster so he may have a case too. Carlos Correa isn’t having too great a year, but he, along with Andrelton Simmons, Eduardo Escobar and…even Xander Bogaerts…probably warrant bench consideration for the real game. But not quite for me.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Aaron Judge, NYY (S), Mookie Betts, Bos (S), Nick Castellanos, Det, Eddie Rosario, Min, Nomar Mazara, Tex, Mitch Haniger, Sea
Didn’t have to think too hard about the starters. They are so obvious, not sure I need to say anything really. Castellanos was Detroit’s clear rep and we picked Rosario over the SS Escobar to represent the Twins. I suppose one could have gone with Shin-Soo Choo as the Ranger rep. But since Choo DH’s two-thirds of the time, I chose Mazara. Despite Choo’s clear advantage in OPS. Haniger? Segura? Nelson Cruz? Could’ve gone with either of these three for my last spot. I chose Haniger. Whatever. Andrew Benintendi? Close. Next year kid.
DH: J.D. Martinez, Bos (S)
As usual, 1 DH is enough. Martinez has put up some huge numbers this season. Can’t ignore those. Plus, he plays some outfield. Not well, mind you. But he still is sent out there sometimes. Good enough for me. Already teased above that Cruz is not on my team. He’s having his usual good year. But hasn’t played an inning in the field. Gattis has those 4 innings at catcher, nothing else. Mike…oops, Giancarlo…Stanton had that horrible start and has since come on. But everyone else besides J.D. really didn’t move the needle for me enough this season. Especially when they are all primarily designated hitters.
P: Luis Severino, NYY (S), Justin Verlander, Hou, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Blake Snell, TB, Corey Kluber, Cle, Chris Sale, Bos, Charlie Morton, Hou, James Paxton, Sea, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Craig Kimbrel, Bos, Aroldis Chapman, NYY, Blake Treinen, Oak, Edwin Diaz, Sea
I will probably cut and paste this preamble every year, in case there are any new readers that may give a crap. I know, fat chance. Anyway, here it is: 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.
4 closers this year for me though. Simply couldn’t find a reason to leave any of them off, they have all been THAT good this year. If I had to take one off, it would probably be Kimbrel. Although he has been good this year, he hasn’t been as lights out as last year. Chapman, Treinen and Diaz have been dominant this season. Can’t ignore this.
All 9 starters are no-brainers to me as well. Don’t know how any of them do not make the real squad. I’ve heard some chatter about Morton being the odd man out. 11-2, 2.83, 141 K’s in 108 innings. How can you leave him off? 3 Houston starters should make it, deal with it. And Lance McCullers could have been a fourth in less competitive years.
Came down to Severino or Verlander to start. Could even make a case for Sale based on the totality of the numbers. I imagine Severino’s 14 wins will get him the real start. No complaints here on that.
Shohei Ohtani as a dual weapon in this game? Not this year due to injury. But don’t rule it out going forward.
Next: The 2018 National League All-Stars…