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…