As promised, the NL squad is below. 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. Similar to the AL, 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the NL this year, but the reasoning is different. The Blowhard, in all seriousness, had problems coming up with the 32 players needed for the NL team. Each team is represented, as we know. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. But there was one NL team that truly had ZERO real candidates. You’ll find that out soon enough. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Mia (S), Francisco Cervelli, Pit
There were surprisingly several candidates at this position in the National League. But I’m sticking with my 2 catcher maximum. After Realmuto was a victim of taking only two catchers in the two previous years, he is the clear-cut starter this season. After that? HAD to go with Cervelli to back up. The Pittsburgh Pirates really do not have any candidates at all. Cervelli has missed some time with a concussion but has a .876 OPS when he has played. The only other Pirate player worth considering was their closer, Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves are great. But a 3.47 ERA and a WHIP of almost 1.35 is not. As for other dudes…Yadier Molina could have a case. Buster Posey always has a case. But Posey’s numbers are down from previous years.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atl (S), Jesus Aguilar, Mil, Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Joey Votto, Cin
Aguilar is a nice story, but I’m going Freeman to start. Goldy started slow but is on fire recently. Votto’s power is down, but he’s still having a nice year. If you wanted Brandon Belt instead, fine. Jose Martinez? Sure. I won’t argue about the last slot. Take whoever you want. Except for Eric Hosmer. Wow, that was a dumb contract the Padres gave him. And he ain’t doing much to earn it.
2B: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Scooter Gennett, Cin, Ozzie Albies, Atl, Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM
Baez by a slim margin over Gennett to start. Guess Gennett’s 2017 season was not a fluke, huh? Albies had a strong first half. Asdrubal? Yup. Deserved. If you wanted to take a fifth first baseman over him, I wouldn’t complain. But I’m keeping him on my squad. And no, he isn’t the only Met, if you can believe that.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col
This is it for third base in the NL. And this year Arenado is NOT being penalized for playing in Colorado. Suarez’ overall numbers are simply better. And Max Muncy’s 20 dingers in 196 at-bats are nice. But not sure that gets him on.
SS: Brandon Crawford, SF (S), Trevor Story, Col
And…this is it for shortstop in the NL. Story is being penalized for playing in Colorado. Trea Turner? Not this year.
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (S), Nick Markakis, Atl (S), David Peralta, AZ (S), Rhys Hoskins, Phi, Bryce Harper, Was
Matt Kemp? Nick Markakis? What year is this? Actually, even though these guys have been around forever, Kemp has actually made only two All-Star teams and Markakis…ZERO. So good for them with what they are doing this season. Peralta? Yikes! But he was really the best option for the last starting spot. I had actually originally picked Odubel Herrera instead of Hoskins…then I realized Hoskins was now pretty much an outfielder and doesn’t play much first base anymore. So I swapped them. Plus, I wanted to say that I picked Odubel, Aaron Altherr and Hoskins as All-Stars from the Phillie outfield in consecutive years. That seems a little crazy, no? Bryce…hmmm, I know. Tough call. .218 average would knock just about everyone else out of it. But power is there and OPS is too. So I said what the hell? Plus…Brandon Nimmo? Kyle Schwarber? Anyone from above I left off? I don’t think so.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Jacob deGrom, NYM, Aaron Nola, Phi, Jon Lester, ChC, Miles Mikolas, StL, Patrick Corbin, AZ, Sean Newcomb, Atl, Mike Foltynewicz, Atl, Kyle Freeland, Col, Josh Hader, Mil, Sean Doolittle, Was, Brad Hand, SD, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Ouch. And…ouch…again. Take a look at the names on this list again. Max gets the start since the game is in his home park. But you could seriously give deGrom the ball. I don’t think a lot of people know what kind of season he is having because his team sucks so bad. Nola has had a nice first half as well. The rest? Ok. But most of the names are certainly underwhelming. It’s almost like I had to take Freeland because he is a starting pitcher from Colorado and with his numbers (8-6, 3.18), you have to take that into consideration. Newcomb has backslid a bit. Mikolas is the Cards rep. Folty has fewer innings than most starters. Corbin and Lester have been solid. But who’s next, Ross Stripling? Nope.
Hader was the only middle man taken on both teams. But he did close when the Brewers regular closer, Corey Knebel, was out. And you can’t scoff at 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. In fact, there is another middle guy on his team that probably deserves consideration in Jeremy Jeffress. Hand is the Padres rep. People have been on the Kirby Yates bandwagon. Not me. Doolittle belongs. Jansen isn’t quite as dominant as he has been in previous years, but he’s still the guy to close it out if it gets to that point. Kyle Barraclough and Adam Ottavino probably deserve consideration as middle guys as well. But I’m not doing that. Maybe Raisel Iglesias as another closer. But I’m going with these guys.
Aaaaaah…feels good to be on time…for once!