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…