Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Bat Shatters All-Star Team

As part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), each site gets the opportunity to vote on a few things every year and one of those things is the MLB All-Star game. My vote doesn't really count for anything more than any other person's but I think the BBA compiles all the votes from the blogs in the Alliance and, well, it gives people an idea of who the bloggers are voting for...I know, you're really excited right? I'll start with my National League picks, then do the American League, with a short blurb on why I made each selection. Enjoy.


C - Brian McCann - Atlanta Braves
With Buster Posey out of the picture for the rest of this season, this selection becomes a bit of a no-brainer, though there are certainly other catchers who are contending for the starting catcher spot in the NL (Miguel Montero, Chris Ianetta, Yadier Molina to name a few). McCann has a .303/.374/.491 hitting-line coming into play today, making him the best offensive catcher in the NL and though defensively he is not the best, the fact that he leads NL catchers in HRs and RBIs makes up the difference.

1B - Prince Fielder - Milwaukee Brewers
This was a tough one because two guys, Prince and Joey Votto, are both playing at a very high level for contending teams. I give the edge to Fielder though because the dude's been all-world so far this season. Coming into today, he already has 19HRs, 58RBIs and a .303/.416/.622 hitting line. Since the middle of May, the Brewers have been on a tear and a lot of the credit belongs to Fielder, who has done a great job of anchoring the Brewers offense. What I've always liked about Fielder is that he swings his hardest every time, he runs his hardest every time and you can just sense the intensity with which he plays the game. I like to see that in an athlete and he doesn't disappoint.

2B - Rickie Weeks - Milwaukee Brewers
I guess you could make a case for Brandon Phillips here, but aside from those two guys, this field is pretty weak overall. If Chase Utley hadn't been injured I imagine his name would be here in the mix, but I don't believe in giving a guy an All-Star slot just because he's been good in the past. Weeks, like Fielder, is a big reason the Brewers are contenders and his 12HRs leads all NL 2nd basemen (tied with Kelly Johnson).

SS - Jose Reyes - New York Mets
Jose Reyes may not have the HR power of a Troy Tulowitzki, but he actually has a higher SLG% than Tulo and, not only that, Reyes leads the NL in AVG, OBP and SLG among all shortstops with over 150 at-bats. He also leads NL shortstops with 20 stolen bases and 47 runs. He's been a one man wrecking crew and if he can maintain the .342/.386/.524 hitting line he has going, it could be one of the more impressive seasons we've seen from a shortstop in quite some time.

3B - Ryan Roberts - Arizona Diamondbacks
Raise your hand if you know who this guy is. I'll be honest, I didn't know him either. Nevertheless, he leads NL 3rd basemen with 10 HRs, he has the highest OPS among NL 3rd basemen, he's got a slick glove AND he is tied for the NL lead (among 3rd basemen) with 9 stolen bases. Gotta respect those numbers.

RF - Lance Berkman - St. Louis Cardinals
The change of scenery to New York didn't work out for Berkman, but things have certainly worked out for him in St. Louis and if not for being a total defensive dud, he would easily be the NL's most valuable right-fielder. Berkman has played at a consistently high-level at the plate and that's pretty much the sole reason he gets my vote.

CF - Matt Kemp - Los Angeles Dodgers
He hits for average, he steals bases, he leads the NL in HRs and if not for weak fielding abilities, he'd be up there with Jose Bautista for the title of Most Valuable (in terms of WAR). Kemp is having a breakout year and is on pace to put up some ridiculous numbers.

LF - Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers
I swear I'm not a Brewers fan...they just have that many superstars right now on offense. Braun leads all NL left-fielders in Runs, Homeruns, RBIs, stolen bases, SLG% and WAR. That's domination at the position and makes him deserving of an All-Star slot. Matt Holliday would certainly be in the mix as well if he weren't on the DL.

Starting Pitchers:
Roy Halladay - Philadelphia Phillies
Doc is doing it again, no surprise here. His ERA (2.39) would be impressive alone, but it's doubly impressive when you consider his FIP (2.11) and xFIP (2.34) are both even better. He's solidly in his prime right now.

Cole Hamels - Philadelphia Phillies
Both Hamels and Halladay have K/9 rates over 9.0 and BB/9 rates below 2.00. We could be looking at a co-Cy Young award this year with teammates winning it...I would wager that's never happened before.

Jair Jurjens - Atlanta Braves
I'd put Cliff Lee here because he is just as deserving, but that would be boring. Jair missed the first half of April due to injury, but has been nothing short of spectacular since returning. His 1.82 ERA is the best in the NL, and while he doesn't rack up Ks with the best of them, he doesn't walk anyone either as evidenced by his NL 2nd-best 1.25 BB/9 ratio.

Other Guys I'd Vote For: Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Jaime Garcia, Daniel Hudson, Tommy Hanson

Relief Pitchers:
Jonny Venters - Atlanta Braves
Look at his stats, you won't regret it...ridiculous. His teammate Craig Kimbrel has ridiculous stats as well, though in a different way. Worth a look, I'm jealous that the Braves have both of them...

John Axford - Milwaukee Brewers
I'll vote for the guy simply because he's admirably filled the biggest closer's shoes of all-time in Trevor Hoffman. Axford has 18 saves, a sub-3.00 ERA and he's only blown 2 saves so far this year. At 28-years-old, we could be seeing this guy in the closers' role for awhile.

Mike Adams - San Diego Padres
I root for the underdog and in this case, I suspect that few people outside of fantasy baseball would recognize this guy's name. Adams has a near 10.0 K/9 ratio, a 1.17 BB/9 ratio, a 1.17 ERA and he's "held" 12 games for the Padres. He's exactly what you want to have when you go to the 'pen and you can't argue with those numbers...saves are sexy, but consistency is king.


C - Alex Avila - Detroit Tigers
I like stories like Avila. Guy gets a chance to shine, comes through with flying colors. Avila has the best SLG% of all American League catchers (min. 150 PAs) and though his BABIP (.359) suggests this won't last forever, it's been a nice run for a guy who's getting his first real shot.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - Boston Red Sox
There are literally half a dozen guys who had a legit case for starting 1st basemen for the American League. Miguel Cabrera, Paul Konerko, and Mark Teixeira all have the numbers to support their cases. That said, it's A-Gonz who has risen to the top.

2B - Howie Kendrick - Los Angeles Angels
Playing on the west coast, Kendrick doesn't get much love, but between his glove at 2nd and his bat, there hasn't been a better 2nd basemen so far this year. Kendrick spent a little time on the DL, but has come back with a vengeance and coming into tonight he has a .310/.375/.495 triple-slash with 7HRs and 5 stolen bases. His BABIP is way up there (.369) so a 2nd-half swoon is possible, but hey, these are awards for what a guy has done right?

SS - Alexei Ramirez - Chicago White Sox
I know, I know, Asdrubal Cabrera has a better SLG% and more HRs, RBIs and stolen bases. BUT, his play at shortstop, a critical position on the field, doesn't match up to Alexei's and to me that makes a difference. The middle infield is crucial to a team's success and The Cuban Missile has done more to help the White Sox than Cabrera has done to help Cleveland.

3B - Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
A-Rod is still the best 3rd baseman in baseball and I predict he will be for at least another 2-4 years. He's not stealing bases like he used to but he's still hitting for power, he has excellent plate discipline, he has an excellent glove and in my mind, when he's playing at the level he has been at this year, he's nearly worth the ridiculous salary he makes.
Honorable Mentions: Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria

RF - Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays
This is easily the most one-sided race in all of baseball. According to fangraphs.com, Bautista has amassed an MLB-best 4.7 WAR to-date, the next closest right-fielder is Matt Joyce with 2.7 WAR. To put that into perspective, Bautista has been almost twice as valuable as the next best guy. Dude's got a .701 SLG%...that is ridic.

CF - Curtis Granderson - New York Yankees
You can't help but like this guy. He's a good person and a great baseball player and well, it's easy to vote for someone like that when they're having a fantastic year, which Granderson is. His 20HRs, 54 Runs, and 47 RBIs are all tops for qualified centerfielders and he's made a handful of excellent defensive plays as well.

LF - Alex Gordon (?) - Kansas City Royals
Never thought I'd see the day. Gordon has had himself a nice season and is benefiting from the fact that LF has to be one of the most shallow positions in the American League. There isn't much competition and his .818 OPS takes the cake.

DH - David Ortiz - Boston Red Sox
Another category where the competition isn't close, though Ortiz might be the only truly full-time DH out there. Yawn.

Starting Pitchers:
Dan Haren - Los Angeles Angels
There hasn't been much talk about Danny boy, but he's quietly had himself a great year so far with an AL-best 2.52 FIP and 4th-best 2.56 ERA. He has the 2nd best BB/9 ratio in the American League and though he only has 5 wins to show for his efforts, he's been one of the AL's most dominating starters so far this year.

Jered Weaver - Los Angeles Angels
Between the Phillies and Angels...you've got the 5 best pitchers in baseball. Weaver was absolutely light-out in April, had a rougher go of it in May, but has overall been excellent so far this season. His 3.1 WAR is tied for AL-best with teammate Dan Haren and his 2.24 ERA is behind only Josh Beckett and upstart Alexi Ogando for the AL lead.

Felix Hernandez - Seattle Mariners
Considering who King Felix plays for, perhaps he doesn't deserve this spot, but hey, this is about individual talent. Hernandez leads the AL in Ks and innings-pitched and has done nothing to cast any doubt on his Cy Young award from last season. His ERA isn't the best, but he's got the 4th best xFIP in the AL and manages to give even the lowly Seattle Mariners a chance to win every time he's out there.

Relief Pitchers:
Jordan Walden - Los Angeles Angels
This guy is another good example of someone who got an opportunity and seized it. Walden's got a tidy 2.76 ERA (2.04 FIP), he hasn't allowed a HR and while he's blown 3 saves, this is his first year closing and he's only 23-years-old.

David Robertson - New York Yankees
This guy won't get any love because he's a closer, but David Robertson has stranded 87.2% of runners on-base, he has a 1.37 ERA (26.1 innings), and he has the 4th most "holds" in the American League. His 14.70 K/9 ratio is impressive and yet...he get no love.

Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
If the Phillies and Angels have 5 of Baseball's best starters, the Braves and Yankees have 4 of MLB's best relievers. Rivera continues to dominate, he owns a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-2.00 FIP and he's tied for the AL's 2nd best mark in Saves with 16. I respect both the way Rivera comports himself, and his consistency on the field.

Whew, if you're still reading, thank you, that was one of my longest posts ever.

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