Since the MLB All-Star Game is only a little over a month away, I am going to post my All-Star picks every so often. I'm going to break these down into two posts, one for the American League and one for the National League because I'm sure I'm going to have a lot to say and I don't want the post to be too long.
I'm starting off with the American League, which this season actually looks like the weaker league talent wise. Just so you know, when things are close between two players, I always go with the guy who's been there before. Basically, I feel like someone has to really be having an outstanding season in order for them to take a proven All-Star's spot.
Feel free to agree or disagree with my picks.
Joe Mauer is an easy selection at catcher in the AL. You would like to see a little more power from Mauer, but you can't argue with the .324 batting average. A.J. Pierzynski is having a solid season and is next in line, then you probably would have to go with Jason Varitek after that.
This was a tough one for me, as I couldn't decide between Morneau and Kevin Youkilis. However, Morneau is a former MVP and has a slightly higher OPS+ than Youkilis. I'm sure by the time the All-Star Game comes around, one of these two will distinguish themselves as the pick. Jason Giambi is in the discussion thanks to his power numbers and patience at the plate, which has inflated his OPS+ pretty nicely.
As you would expect, second base is a pretty weak position offensively, and Kinsler is by far the most productive one. If Brian Roberts can get his average up, then I would probably go with him because he is more experienced than Kinsler, but Kinsler is certainly deserving. Mark Ellis, Placido Polanco, and Dustin Pedroia are all lurking in mediocrity right now as the next in line after that.
I'm sure I will catch some heat for picking Jeter here, but like I said, I tend to lean towards veterans who have been to multiple All-Star Games, unless someone is having an outstanding season. There really is no other shortstop in the AL who is playing great, and I'm giving Jeter the benefit of the doubt that he will pick things up before the All-Star Game.
I'm sorry, but as long as Manny Ramirez is a productive hitter, he is getting my All-Star vote every year. The other two guys are pretty much no-brainers because they are having MVP type seasons right now. Next in line are B.J. Upton and Magglio Ordonez, with Grady Sizemore lurking in the wings. Jack Cust also deserves some mention because he has a 143 OPS+ and a .411 OBP due to his league leading 44 walks.
Next in line: B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Rays, .307, 3 HR, 34 RBI, 16 SB, 136 OPS+, Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers, .318, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 145 OPS+, Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians, .257, 11 HR, 30 RBI, 14 SB, 129 OPS+, and Jack Cust, Oakland Athletics, .250, 9 HR, 24 RBI, 143 OPS+
This should be a good battle down the stretch between Bradley and Matsui to see who gets my All-Star vote. While Matsui is certainly deserving of the spot, I just can't deny Bradley's 178 OPS+. That quite simply is an MVP type offensive level OPS+, and that's why he gets the nod. David Ortiz would be in the conversation too, but since he is hurt now. He won't have much chance to improve his numbers, but he is still worth a mention.
Cliff Lee has been the best pitcher in the AL since the season began, so it should be no surprise he is my starting pitcher right now. Next in line is Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he's injured right now, so he won't have a chance to be my pick. Joe Saunders and Roy Halladay have been strong so far this season as well. If Halladay can string together a few more solid outings and get to 10+ wins by the break, I might be tempted to go with him as my pick.
Next in line: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox, 8-0, 2.53 ERA, 55 SO, 171 ERA+, Joe Saunders, Los Angeles Angels, 9-2, 2.63 ERA, 39 K, 156 ERA+, and Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays, 7-5, 2.94 ERA, 74 K, 139 ERA+
A couple more things I noticed when researching the stats for this post:
- The AL is really weak offensively up the middle right now with most of the starters sporting OPS+ figures below the league average of 100. Tony Pena of the Kansas City Royals is the worst offender with his 2 OPS+.
- Vladimir Guerrero is having a sub-par season this year so far hitting only .249 with 7 HR, 29 RBI, and a 101 OPS+. Vlad is a career .322 hitter, so to see him struggling early on is surprising.
- Mariano Rivera has been ridiculous this season posting an ERA+ of 1133. Basically, he's been 11 times better than the average pitcher in the Major Leagues.
- The pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox is really damn good. The Blue Jays have an ERA+ of 123 and the White Sox sports 128 ERA+. The next closest team is the Tampa Bay Rays with a 112 ERA+. The Blue Jays also have FOUR relief pitchers with sub-2.00 ERA's.
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