As promised, NL squad below. Only 32 players this year, down from 34 in recent years. 22 position players, 10 pitchers, with each team represented (Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule). (S) for starter. Comments below each position.
C: Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL
Sticking with the 2 catcher maximum here. Kind of had to, with these two being their teams sole representatives. So yup, that means I didn’t select Carlos Martinez for my team. Oh well. He’ll be here more than a few times in the future more than likely. Anyway, the only other real option here was J.T. Realmuto. I can’t believe Realmuto has been on the fringe of my team for two years running. Maybe I should reevaluate him.
1B: Joey Votto, Cin (S), Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Ryan Zimmerman, Was, Freddie Freeman, Atl
This is what I wrote last year, “You can probably pretty much pencil in (Anthony) Rizzo and Goldy every year for the forseeable future, barring injury or change in leagues.” Oops. No Rizzo this year. He has rebounded nicely from his early season woes, but it wasn’t enough. Check the water in Zim’s locker. The last time he made an All-Star team was 1909…er, I mean, 2009. But you get the point. .218 in over 400 ABs last year and now at age 32 these numbers? Ok, but he deserves to start. And so does Goldschmidt. But I picked Votto. His numbers are a hair above both. Freeman could probably start too, but he missed half the season. And now he is playing third base. But I couldn’t justify any other Atlanta player being on my team. I don’t care how good Ender Inciarte is defensively.
2B: Daniel Murphy, Was (S), Anthony Rendon, Was, Justin Turner, LAD
Ok, I clearly cheated here. But I had to. To me, Murphs was the only legit 2b I could really consider here. Josh Harrison is a nice player, but not an All-Star. DJ LeMahieu? Nope. Colorado, for one. But secondly, I really don’t understand the infatuation. Whatever. So I am going with a couple of backups that play exclusively 3b now, but have played plenty of second base in the past. And I picked Rendon before his 6 ribbies on Saturday. Turner missed some time due to injury in the first half. But hard to ignore his .377 average and 1.000 plus OPS at the break.
3B: Jake Lamb, AZ (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC, Travis Shaw, Mil
Once again, Arenado gets penalized for playing in Colorado. But once again he deserves to be on the team. Just not starting. I really should have started Bryant, but Lamb has the superior numbers this year. By the end of the year that may be different. Bryant didn’t make the real team. That’s a crime. Sure, he isn’t putting up the MVP numbers of last year, but it’s not like he’s hitting .220 either. He has to be on the team, you know, being the reigning MVP and all. Numbers this year are good enough, I say. To boot, he is somehow my only Cub. Little disappointing over there in ChiTown this year. At least Wade Davis won’t blow my game like he did the real one. Last, but certainly not least…Shaw HAS to be on the team. First, Milwaukee is in first place and deserves more than the one rep they had in the real game. Second? What a stupid offseason trade by the Red Sox. Listen, I wasn’t the biggest Travis Shaw fan. He did fade as the year went on last year. But did they have to basically throw him in the trade for Tyler Thornburg? A middle reliever with apparent arm problems? Just seemed like the prospects the Sox sent should have been enough there. And now Thornburg will not pitch this year and the Sox are rotating between various minor leaguers at third base…after they finally pulled the plug on the Pablo Sandoval experiment. Sigh…
SS: Corey Seager, LAD (S), Trea Turner, Was
Thin yet again. Seager is easy. Turner should be easy…and yes, I know he is hurt. Doesn’t matter. Zack Cozart? Really?
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Marcell Ozuna, Mia (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Cody Bellinger, LAD, Charlie Blackmon, Col, Wil Myers, SD, Aaron Altherr, Phi
Seven outfielders, four third basemen, four first basemen…of course some of those guys will fill the DH role. Once again, the starters were no-brainers. Though I suppose if Bellinger had been in the majors all year, he could have supplanted one of them. Since he’s a rookie, he will have to defer this year, either way. Blackmon has his Colorado numbers, but belongs on the team. I suppose I should have listed Myers at first, since he actually plays there. But I didn’t like the look of five first basemen for some reason. And Myers came up as an outfielder. So…who cares anyway? Myers and Altherr represent the Padres and Phillies, respectively. I don’t care how well Brad Hand pitches in the 6th-7th inning, I couldn’t stomach him being the Padres rep, as he was in reality. He’s a middle reliever on a team that has a closer with a 5.30 ERA (Brandon Maurer). If Hand can’t close over Maurer, he’s not an All-Star. As much as we all love Pat Neshek, same deal in Philly. If he can’t seize the closer role from any of the clowns that have closed for that squad this year (Hector Neris??!)…he is also not an All-Star. I feel better about picking Altherr this year than I do about picking Odubel Herrera last year, I can tell you that much.
P: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Zack Greinke, AZ, Robbie Ray, AZ, Gio Gonzalez, Was, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Ivan Nova, Pit, Corey Knebel, Mil, Greg Holland, Col, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Kershaw is a pretty good pitcher, eh? Once again putting up video game numbers. 14 wins at the break. Nice work. Max and Zack doing what they do. Robbie Ray coming out of nowhere. Well, he was a top prospect, now it appears he has taken the next step at age 25. I took Gio over Strasburg, but both could be here. deGrom is the Mets rep. Toyed with Jay Bruce, but had enough bats already. Nova is the Pirates rep. Underwhelming, I know. The apparently resurrected Andrew McCutchen would probably have been a better choice. But having to take Myers and Altherr and all those other bats left him off in favor of a pitcher. Knebel has been absolutely filthy for the Brew Crew and what Holland is doing in his comeback in Colorado is nothing short of amazing. Jansen has an ERA under 1.00 on that Dodger juggernaut, so he closes my game if it gets there.
There are a few pitchers that may have deserved better…Strasburg, Carlos Martinez, Alex Wood (10-0 at the break, but less innings than other starters), Wade Davis and gulp, Jimmy Nelson (??) could have arguments here. If you like middle relievers, Hand, Neshek and Archie Bradley (1.10 ERA at the break) could be in the discussion as well. Everyone can’t make it. As usual though, I think I nailed both teams!
In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game selections being announced today, I present my National 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: Wilson Ramos, Was (S), Buster Posey, SF, Jonathan Lucroy, Mil
Surprisingly a lot of options here, compared to the AL. Wellington Castillo and J.T. Realmuto actually earned some consideration in addition to the three I selected. Yup, I am serious. Anyway, I was tempted to once again go with Posey as the starter. But I couldn’t ignore Ramos’ superior numbers.
1B: Anthony Rizzo, CHC (S), Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Wil Myers, SD
You can probably pretty much pencil in Rizzo and Goldy every year for the forseeable future, barring injury or change in leagues. Myers is the Padres rep, but if you’ve been paying attention, he’s had a pretty good year regardless. Last year somehow I took 6 first basemen. Three here seems about right. Brandon Belt is 12th in the NL in OPS, so maybe he has a case. Freddie Freeman isn’t awful, but also isn’t lighting the world on fire. His atrocious team does not help. I decided on someone else for the Braves rep however.
2B: Daniel Murphy, Was (S), Ben Zobrist, CHC
Murphy has carried over his performance in last year’s playoffs for the Mets right into this year. Pretty much a no-brainer here. Zobrist cost the Cubbies more than you would think this past offseason. But it’s worked out great so far. Not a lot of other candidates. Couldn’t do DJ LeMahieu here at all. Because, as you know, I penalize players a smidge for playing in Colorado. Dee Gordon is serving a PED suspension. Jean Segura? Nope.
3B: Kris Bryant, CHC (S), Matt Carpenter, StL, Nolan Arenado, Col, Jake Lamb, AZ
Did you know Carpenter leads the NL in OPS at 1.008? And that Lamb is 2nd at .974? Neither did I. I was aware that Carpenter was having a pretty good year, but shocked at seeing where Lamb stands. Bryant is 6th at .948, but he’s still my starter. One of those guys you can pencil in for multiple All-Star selections before he is done. Another monster year for Arenado, but you know…Colorado. Puts him on the team regularly, but not as a starter.
SS: Corey Seager, LAD (S), Aledmys Diaz, StL
Thin here again this year. Trevor Story has been a nice…ahem…story, but I’m not putting him at this level yet. 106 K’s so far this year. To put that in perspective, Chris Carter has 103. Yikes! Brandon Crawford deserved a look as well, but no room at the Inn for him this year. Especially when his OPS is lower than a guy like Jonathan Villar. Anyway, Seager is one of those potential stars and at 22 years old, he may be that already. Diaz came out of nowhere earlier this year and kept Jhonny Peralta’s job when Peralta came back from his injury. And he hasn’t missed a beat.
OF: Yoenis Cespedes, NYM (S), Marcell Ozuna, Mia (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Carlos Gonzalez, Col, Gregory Polanco, Pit, Adam Duvall, Cin, Odubel Herrera, Phi
Seven outfielders, but since no DH’s are selected in the NL, 2 or 3 of these guys could rotate in there. Another takeaway? No Giancarlo Stanton or Andrew McCutchen. I do like to try to include real “superstars” in these games, even if they are not performing to their usual standards in a specific year. The All-Star Game is really an exhibition, even though it decides home field advantage in the World Series, as foolish as this decision continues to be. Fans want to see these types of players though and that’s why the superstars get voted in regularly, regardless of current performance. Unfortunately, those guys have been less than good this year. On top of that, they may be the 3rd best option at OF on their own teams this season (Ozuna & Christian Yelich in Mia; Polanco and Starling Marte in Pit). I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of them though. Ryan Braun’s numbers are pretty good and he is 11th in OPS. But since he is a “convicted” liar and cheater, he doesn’t make my team. Ok, I am sure there are other scumbags on this team too. But that’s what I’m going with.
Moving on, Harper isn’t having the best year. But he’s the reigning MVP and putting up fairly decent numbers. See the explanation above on why he starts on my team. Gonzalez can be basically lumped in with Arenado…on the team every year, but playing in Colorado makes me never put him as a starter. Cespedes and Ozuna seem like obvious starters to me. Polanco is 5th among NL OFs in OPS. Duvall and Herrera are their teams reps. Since Jay Bruce and Joey Votto have slightly higher OPS’s than Duvall, you could argue either of them as the rep. But I’m not. Especially since Votto had a horrendous start. The only other true candidate from the Phillies was Jeanmar Gomez. No thanks.
P: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Jake Arrieta, CHC, Johnny Cueto, SF, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Jon Lester, CHC, Jose Fernandez, Mia, Noah Syndergaard, NYM, Stephen Strasburg, Was, Julio Teheran, Atl, Kenley Jansen, LAD, Mark Melancon, Pit, Jeurys Familia, NYM
Probably like 5 or 6 of the above named starters have a legitimate claim to start the All-Star Game, but I’m going with Kershaw. ERA is under 2.00 and of course he is his usual dominant self so far this year. But he is hurt in real life, so if I had to choose a backup starter it would have to be Arrieta. Since he is the reigning Cy Young award winner, maybe I should have picked him anyway. Cueto is 12-1, Strasburg is 10-0, etc. Lot of studs on this staff. Well, Teheran is 3-7, but since his ERA is 2.72 and the Braves are really an AAAA-level team, he is here as their rep.
There was some talent left off here too. Cases could be made for Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez, Kenta Maeda, the old John Lackey and the really old Bartolo Colon…if you can believe that. Toyed with Drew Pomeranz as the Padres rep. But felt like Myers was the better choice considering all the pitching options available in the NL.
The way I feel about closers, with all the options for starters, it is somewhat surprising that I didn’t go with 13 starters and no relievers. But I felt the 3 closers selected were worthy. Jansen and Melancon have ERA’s around 1.30 and Jansen, in particular, has been dominant. Familia is 29-29 in save opportunities. Speaking of dominant, it’s a little bit of a shame that Fernando Rodney got traded from San Diego to Miami…going from closer to setup man. Yes, this just happened recently, but it did impact my thinking. Rodney gave up ONE run in three months for the Padres, going 17 for 17 in saves opps in the process. Sure, he only pitched a shade under 29 innings, but impressive nonetheless. He may have been my Padres rep if he remained in SD. But no way he is Miami’s. Probably should have found a spot for him anyway. Maybe we can pretend he will be Kershaw’s injury replacement…now there’s a win-win, right?!
The only other closers I gave consideration to were A.J. Ramos and Hector Rondon. But Ramos didn’t quite do it for me. And since Theo Epstein apparently is trying to pry one of the Yankees’ three bullpen studs to presumably unseat Rondon, I dismissed him as an option. The only middle man I considered was Sadaharu Oh…ummmmm, I mean, Seung Hwan Oh of the Cards. He appears to now be their closer, with Trevor Rosenthal being awful. But the competition was too tough for him to have a realistic shot.
That about covers it…so let’s see how mine compares to the real selections…
In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played Tuesday, here is my National League All-Star team. 20 position players, 14 pitchers, each team represented. (S) for starter. Comments below each position. NL team was a little harder to pick. Simply because based on the statistics, I should’ve taken 14 position players and 20 pitchers. But that of course would look foolish, so…
C: Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL
As noted in the AL column, not a huge fan of taking 3 catchers. Suppose a case could have been made for Yasmani Grandal and his 14 homers over Molina. But he doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, so I held that against him (did anyone realize only 4 NL catchers actually have enough at-bats to qualify? I find that interesting, though it may only be me that does. I get that a lot…). Plus, we know what Yadier is defensively.
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, AZ (S), Anthony Rizzo, CHC, Freddie Freeman, Atl, Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, Joey Votto, Cin, Adam Lind, Mil
6 first basemen you say? I say yes. For one, all 6 are in the top 11 in the NL in OPS. For two, no DH’s are to be selected in the NL, so some can play there. For three, Lind can play the outfield if you were desperate. For four, I chose Lind as the Brewer rep. So there you go.
2B: Dee Gordon, LAD (S), Joe Panik, SF
Can you believe I had Chase Utley here as a backup to Gordon last year? Wow, what a drop off for Utley this year. I don’t necessarily love Gordon, as steals are overrated a bit. But he is hitting .338 too, so…and Joe Panik? Yeah, I could’ve gone Kolten Wong here too. But what’s really the difference? I flipped a coin…actually Panik had the higher OPS, so I went with that.
3B: Todd Frazier, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, CHC
Frazier and Arenado are having monster years, but Nolan gets penalized for “The Colorado Effect”, so Todd starts. I was hesitant on Bryant at first. But the lack of offensive candidates here in general, and the excitement of showcasing the kids that could become faces of the game (you’ll see this for one more example later) led me to select him.
SS: Jhonny Peralta, StL (S), Brandon Crawford, SF
Thin, but the best of the lot unfortunately. Yup, Tulo is totally out this year for me. I went through the whole Colorado thing last year. No need to rehash that again. Bottom line: I penalize guys for putting up huge numbers because of that park. Right or wrong. Tulo’s home/road splits aren’t as pronounced as they were at this time last year. But his overall numbers didn’t do enough for me.
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Andrew McCutchen, Pit (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Justin Upton, SD, Joc Pederson, LAD
Can’t get any more airtight than these three starters. Upton is the Padre rep and for Joc? See Bryant, Kris above. .230 isn’t awesome, but he is still in. You want AJ Pollock instead? No thanks…
P: Zack Greinke, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Gerrit Cole, Pit, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Shelby Miller, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Jake Arrieta, CHC, Carlos Martinez, StL, AJ Burnett, Pit, Johnny Cueto, Cin, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Francisco Liriano, Pit, Cole Hamels, Phi, Aroldis Chapman, Cin
13 starters and 1 closer? Yup. Honestly, there were a whole slew of guys that I could’ve taken here. Some gaudy numbers all around the league. Of course, that’s probably because it’s the NL, but the numbers are the numbers. Anyway, Greinke doesn’t have the K’s that Max or Clayton have, but you can’t argue a 1.39 ERA. He was the right choice to start. Yes, I took 3 Pirates. Cole is 13-3, Burnett has a 2.11 ERA and Liriano has a 1.03 WHIP and is over a K per inning. Simply stated stats, but they belong.
Miller’s performance this year makes you wonder why the Cardinals gave him up. Usually the Cards know who to get rid of cuz they aren’t very good (see Kelly, Joe, Craig, Allen, Red Sox, Boston). deGrom and Hamels are their teams’ reps. Hamels numbers are inflated from a couple of shellings, but his overall numbers are decent enough. Other than Jonathan Papelbon and maybe Ken Giles, candidates were sparse on the Phils, so I went with the horse. Bumgarner’s numbers may not be quite as good as others. But he’s here for a good first half and a dominant postseason last year. Arrieta’s and Cueto’s WHIPs are both under 1.00, have nice ERAs and average about a K per inning.
Honestly could’ve made cases for John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Tyson Ross, Jason Hammel, Matt Harvey, etc. But how many starters can you take?
Chapman seemed to be the only dominant bullpen guy out there and thus he was the only one selected. There are a whole slew of closers with 20 plus saves and a 1-something ERA. Drew Storen, Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal, Mark Melancon, Francisco Rodriguez, etc. But looking at their overall numbers, I didn’t feel it. Plus, I saw Melancon pitch in the AL. Not pretty. I’ll never forget his last meaningful appearance for the BoSox (he got shipped to AAA after that game and then came back later in the year only to pitch mopup). 6 batters, 6 runs, 3 homers, all of them moonshots. The expression on his face as he gave up his last one? Complete shellshock. Happy to be back in NL I bet.
Guys like Pap and John Axford, Brad Ziegler, etc…same boat, with less saves. Kenley Jansen actually has been dominant (16 saves, 0.55 WHIP, 1.66 ERA, 2/38 BB/K ratio), but he missed half the first half and has only pitched 22 innings. Not enough. And seem to be a lot of middle men with gaudy numbers. But middle men certainly will get squeezed out here with the rest of the candidates. Ain’t no Wade Davis or Dellin Betances in this group. Maybe Kevin Siegrist. AJ Ramos? Possibly. But not this year…