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2019 MLB National League All-Stars

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…

2019 MLB American League All-Stars

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…

2018 MLB National League All-Stars

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!

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