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2017 MLB National League All-Stars

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!

 

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More hardware…

…now for the National League.  Full disclosure:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This may be quick…

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
  2. Daniel Murphy, Washington
  3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
  4. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  5. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  6. Joey Votto, Cincinnati
  7. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
  8. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
  9. Buster Posey, San Francisco
  10. Corey Seager, LA Dodgers

10 guys is definitely steep here, as from what I can tell it’s Bryant and then 9 other guys to fill out the ballot.  Murphy 2nd?  Why not?  He led the league in OPS.  He was 13th in WAR?  Oh no!!  I can’t in good conscience put Arenado at #2.  Sure, his numbers are once again great.  But again…Colorado.  I felt like Murphs deserved to be higher than Rizzo and it feels like 2-4 is the next “tier” after Bryant.

5-7…MVP’s?  I don’t know.  These guys all had great years, but their teams were awful.  I have friends that would probably put Freeman 2nd, since he was 3rd in both OPS and WAR and well, it doesn’t matter that his team finished 26 and a half games out of first.  They also probably would put Jon Lester 3rd, since he is…Jon Lester.  You know who you are.

8-10 I was just throwing darts.  Even considered Wilson Ramos.  Ryan Braun had some decent numbers, but…

Speaking of Lester, he may well have been worthy of a top 10 nod, along with Max Scherzer.  And perhaps Madison Bumgarner.  Didn’t feel it here though.  If you do, I wouldn’t argue with it.  Like I said, the whole list was basically a crapshoot anyway.

Cy Young:

  1. Max Scherzer, Washington
  2. Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
  3. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco
  4. Johnny Cueto, San Francisco
  5. Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs

Here’s a ballot that could use the 10 spots.  Not that all of those 10 could be considered the winner of the Cy Young.  But there were several others in the league that warranted “end of ballot” consideration.  These include, Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Martinez, Jake Arrieta and the late Jose Fernandez.  Perhaps Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon too, if you like your closers.  We know I don’t though.

I see this as between just Scherzer and Lester.  And, of course, as a Boston homer, I would’ve loved to give this to Jon.  But after going deeper into the numbers there was no way I could do it.  Lester had a better ERA by about a half a run.  But that’s where it ends.  Max had a better WHIP by a smidge, pitched about 26 more innings, had one more win, almost 90 more strikeouts…and for those who like WAR, it was 6.2 to 5.3 in favor of Max.  The competition in their divisions were similar with one playoff or near playoff team, one average team and 2 putrid ones.  Plus the Cubs won their division handily and surely faced less pressure…not a major consideration, but it was all part of the equation that added up to Max.

Bumgarner and Cueto were a pretty clear next tier to me.  Hendricks got the last spot largely because he led the league in ERA by a healthy margin and was 2nd in WHIP by a slim margin.  Pushed him ahead of Noah for me.  But I didn’t lose a ton of sleep over 5th place.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Corey Seager, LA Dodgers
  2. Kenta Maeda, LA Dodgers
  3. Trea Turner, Washington

Seager was the clear-cut choice here.  No other hitter played enough to qualify, while Seager played the whole year at a high level.  I don’t love putting Maeda second, not after 8 years of pitching in the Japanese leagues.  Yes, Japan is not the majors.  But it’s probably better than Triple-A teams stateside.  Either way, the rules say he is eligible for this award.  Since he was also around for a full season and put up some pretty good numbers on a playoff team, he gets the runner-up position.

Third place could have gone a few ways, but I picked Turner.  Showed great speed (33 steals) and good power (13 dingers) in about half a season.  Throw in the high average (.342) and that sealed up third for me.  Trevor Story was on his way to throwing up some monster numbers before missing the last 2 months or so with injury, but…Colorado.  Aledmys Diaz also threw up decent numbers before he missed the better part of the last two months himself.  And he was an All-Star, for whatever that’s worth.  Seung-hwan Oh had a very nice year in relief for the Cards.  After 9 years in Korea and 2 in Japan.  Plus…reliever.  Junior Guerra, Steven Matz, etc.  There were a bunch of NL rookies who offered pretty good contributions for a half or three-quarters of a year.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Dusty Baker, Washington
  2. Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
  3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco

Between Baker and Maddon and I hate Maddon, so gimme Baker.  Nah, that’s not the reason.  But it’s hard to vote for a guy that won the division by 17 and a half games and was on cruise control for pretty much the whole season.  That’s what I think anyway.  Sure, he had to keep the team full of All-Stars focused and all.  Sometimes that can be hard (see Francona, Terry and Torre, Joe, among others).  But I went with Baker for the top slot.  Dusty took over for Matt Williams and guided the Nationals to 12 more wins…despite a MAJOR drop off from 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper.

If you wanted to put Terry Collins of the Mets 3rd, that would be ok.  He had to deal with many injuries, specifically in his rotation, where among all his young studs 43-year-old Bartolo Colon ended up making the most starts.  The team suffered injuries in his lineup as well.  And Collins still got them to the playoffs.  Bochy didn’t necessarily have to deal with a boatload of injuries.  But he did have to deal with a subpar everything, other than Posey, Bumgarner and Cueto.  Either one works for 3rd for me.

That about sums it all up…

National League All-Stars

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…

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