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!
…same full disclosure as last year: The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League. This may be quick…
Most Valuable Player:
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
- Joey Votto, Cincinnati
- Charlie Blackmon, Colorado
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
- Marcell Ozuna, Miami
- Bryce Harper, Washington
- Travis Shaw, Milwaukee
I wanted to give this to Goldschmidt. And I still probably should have. But Stanton’s numbers are hard to ignore. And so was Goldschmidt’s September (.175/3/11), which you know I weigh pretty heavily all around. Votto had some crazy numbers and led the league in WAR, again, if you fancy that stat. Maybe I’m blinded by the homers, but I’m narrowly going with Stanton here. If Goldschmidt wins in real life, I won’t argue.
You know how I feel about the inflated Colorado numbers. But Blackmon and Arenado put up some huge ones, so they have to be in here somewhere. Bellinger was big once they brought him up. Zimmerman’s season came completely out of nowhere. Hmmmmmm…Ozuna’s numbers were laaaaaahge. Harper missed about 50 games himself, but just like we did in the AL, we like to include those guys in the voting. But, in all seriousness, Bryce may have very well been on his way to the actual award if he stayed healthy. So he really has to be here. Shawsie 10th? Probably not. But the Blowhard certainly did want to recognize him here for his great year…and for the Red Sox’ mistake in giving him away for nothing. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Daniel Murphy, Scooter, Genn…anyway, plenty of other guys could get some love for the Top Ten as well. It’s all a guessing game once you get past the first few.
I could have also added J.D. Martinez somewhere in these columns. 29 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games in Arizona. 1.107 OPS. AZ made the playoffs…J.D. hit .303/45/104 between Detroit and Arizona. Nice year. He may actually get top ten votes in the NL for real.
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington
- Kenley Jansen, LA Dodgers
- Corey Knebel, Milwaukee
Down to Max and Clayton. Scherzer made 4 more starts than Kershaw and that pretty much vaulted him into the top spot for me. Hated putting two relievers in the top five, but they had dominant seasons. There were some other starters that had some pretty good numbers, but they simply didn’t pitch enough innings. Even Kershaw and Strasburg were at about 175. Robbie Ray, Alex Wood…not enough. Zack Greinke went over 200 innings, but his 3.20 ERA was a little high for me, comparatively speaking to the other candidates of course.
Rookie of the Year:
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh
- Paul DeJong, St. Louis
Bellinger should be unanimous. Bell was around all year and that basically gives him second. DeJong spent the first 50 or so games in AAA, so that puts him third. Same goes for Ian Happ from the Cubs. If you wanted to put Happ third instead, I won’t argue. But he was the only other guy worth considering for the top three.
Manager of the Year:
- Torey Lovullo, Arizona
- Dave Roberts, LA Dodgers
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
Slam dunk here too, even though Roberts’ Dodgers finished 11 games ahead of Lovullo’s Diamondbacks. I think we all knew the Dodgers would be good. Lovullo took arguably the same type of players from 2016 and guided the team to 24 more wins and a playoff spot. Counsell took the Brewers to 13 more wins this year, even though they fell just short of the playoffs. I couldn’t do Dusty Baker this year. Certainly not Joe Maddon. Bud Black? Meh…
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!