Official All-Star selections will be made on Sunday so I’ve decided to give you my choices with some explanations. I’ll also post my picks for NL 1st-half Cy Young, MVP, and Rookie of The Year.
C – Miguel Olivo. This has been a bad year for catchers in the NL. Olivo’s posted great offensive numbers (albeit in the light air of Colorado) and he gets the nod over Brian McCann, who’s had a stranglehold as the starting catcher for the NL the last several years. If I had to choose one catcher in the NL for now and the future though, I’d gamble and pick Arizona’s Miguel Montero. He’s missed almost the entire year and accordingly not a legitimate candidate to make the squad but his talent is undeniable. Watch out for him in the future. Backup: Brian McCann.
1B – Joey Votto. Votto has been a consistent force at first base all year long and has the highest OPS out of all one-baggers. He is tied with Albert Pujols with 19 HR for the NL lead. In fact, Votto’s and Pujols’ numbers are nearly identical in almost every category. This was really a toss-up and I tried to be objective and give Pujols his fair due (his lower HR total makes some people think he’s struggling). He’s actually been criticized for his performance at times this year, which is simply a testament to the unreal standard he has created for himself. However, Votto gets the nod due to the fact his Reds are in 1st place over Pujols’ Cardinals. Gonzalez’s premium production from hitting-nightmare Petco Park has led the Padres to 1st place despite being the only viable threat in an otherwise anemic offense. If the Padres maintain their lead, Gonzalez will surely be in the MVP hunt. Backup(s): Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Dunn
2B – Martin Prado. This was actually a fairly loaded position. We saw Kelly Johnson get off to an incredible start to begin the season with a whopping 9 home runs in April. Chase Utley was rolling along until he just got sidelined for 2 months. Dan Uggla is consistently overlooked despite his 14 HR in the pitching-friendly Marlins ballpark. Brandon Phillips has surged for the past two months. However, Prado has been the most consistent all year long. He leads the NL in batting average at a tidy .333 clip, while posting an overall line of .333/.374/.483. While Atlanta Braves stars like Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Yunel Escobar have struggled to find their groove, it has been the unexpected trio of Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, and Troy Glaus that has provided enough offense to propel Atlanta to 1st place in the NL East. Phillips’ defense at second gives him the slight edge over Uggla. Backup: Kelly Johnson
SS – Hanley Ramirez. This would have been Troy Tulowitzki’s job if he didn’t succumb to injury in June courtesy of a fastball to the wrist. The overall defense and leadership of the Rockies’ shortstop makes him the best overall player at the position, but Han-Ram is the best offensively and in a class by himself. His combination of power and speed is unmatched by any other player in today’s game. Playing in a pitching-friendly home ballpark, Ramirez has a .302 BA and is on pace to net a 30-30 season in home runs and stolen bases. His backup will be LA’s very own Rafael Furcal, whom you may have recently recently read about at Lasorda’s Lair. Backup: Rafael Furcal
3B – David Wright. This was a two-man race between Wright and Reds 3B Scott Rolen, although Ryan Zimmerman has also had an excellent, noteworthy season. Both the Lasorda Lair All Star 3B have nearly identical numbers; pretty much the same situation as Pujols and Votto. You could choose to flip a coin between these two and go with the winner and that could arguably the most fair solution. However, Wright gets the nod because of the return of prodigious power displayed by his bat that was missing for all of last year. Wright plays at Citi Field which has a massive power alley for right-handed hitters (which Jason Bay is currently dealing with) and he has adjusted swimmingly in the ballpark’s second season. Also, Wright has had less help in the batting order than Rolen, which is evidenced by the inclusion of Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto on the Lasorda’s Lair All-Star team. Backup(s): Scott Rolen, Ryan Zimmerman
OF – Andre Ethier. Ethier is hitting .318 overall this season, second in NL outfielders to only Manny Ramirez. With that high contact rate comes big-time power, as evidenced by his slugging percentage of .552. He’s slowed down a little since an unfortunate finger injury, but his overall body of work has been worthy of a starting nod.
OF – Corey Hart. Hart needs little explanation for his inclusion on this list. He leads all NL outfielders in home runs (18), RBI’s (60), and SLG% (.572).
OF – Colby Rasmus. Rasmus has long been a favorite of the scouting community and has shown why in 2010. He’s provided a great dose of power and speed in center field for the Cardinals. His 16 HR are second amongst all NL outfielders, and he’s also provided 9 stolen bases. Rasmus will man center field for our squad. If you told me before the year that I would have chosen a Dodgers, Brewers, and Cardinals OF as my starting trio for the 2010 All-Star game, I would have thought for certain that the choices would be Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, and Matt Holliday. But instead, it’s Ethier, Hart, and Rasmus. Backups: Josh Willingham, Jayson Werth, Andrew McCutchen
SP – Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay, Yovanni Gallardo, Mat Latos, Roy Oswalt
RP – Billy Wagner, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Broxton, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Evan Meek
It is important to note that I included at least one player from every team and 34 players (same as the number of real All-Stars). The Cubs miserable season is easier to explain after I picked through the roster looking for their representative. Not a lot to be found. Marmol is worthy nonetheless; but Roy Oswalt is not. He would have not made the team if another Astro was chosen. While he’s had a fine season, I would have probably went with Tim Hudson in his place. Similarly, Arizona’s Kelly Johnson was the no-brainer choice to backup starter Martin Prado. no other D’Backs having a good enough season to be chosen.
Rookie of the Half - Jaime Garcia, STL – He was one of the last couple players in consideration to make my All-Star team, but fell just short. He’s produced ace-like numbers for the Cardinals (if you’re counting, that gives them three).
Cy Young of the Half – Ubaldo Jimenez, COL – This was an extremely close race between him and Josh Johnson. Johnson has better peripherals (WHIP and ERA), but Ubaldo has completed his work in the thin air of Colorado. I’m not gonna pretend the Rockies’ ace record of 14-1 doesn’t stand out like a shiny penny versus Johnson’s pedestrian 8-3 despite the diminished value of wins in today’s sabermetric world.
MVP of the Half – David Wright, NYM – Boy did he make an emphatic return from a season-long power slump in 2009. Wright already has 14 HR compared to 10 all of last year and is single-handedly carrying the Mets to championship contention. He plays in a park that is a terror for right-handed hitters and has taken ALOT of heat off the shoulders of Jason Bay and Jerry Manuel. Oh, and the stats are pretty nice too. He is 4th in the NL in OPS (.940), 4th in batting average (.317), 8th in runs (52), 1st in RBI’s (64), and 10th in stolen bases (16). While he was a little strikeout happy in the early part of the season, he is a consistent five-tool player and future Hall-of-Famer.