The 2012 RealGM MLB All-Star StartersAuthored by Andrew Perna - 9th July, 2012 - 8:32 pm
The annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place in Kansas City on Tuesday night with home-field advantage at the World Series on the line. After a number of superstars dropped out of the event last year, Bud Selig has made sure that players consider making the team an honor this month.
As I unveil my rosters, I will include who was voted into the starting lineup by the fans. The selections were pretty good this year, but that has not always been the case.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota (Mike Napoli, Texas) -- The Twins are awful, but Mauer has had a very productive season (.326/.416/.449) He does not have the power of guys like A.J. Pierzynski (16), Matt Wieters (12) and Mike Napoli (12) with just five dingers, but is tied with Pierzynski for the highest OPS (.865) at the position and his on-base percentage is seventy points higher than the next qualified hitter.
First Base: Prince Fielder, Detroit (Fielder) -- His first season in the American League has been a successful one. He is second to only Paul Konerko (.329) in terms of batting average and leads the position in home runs (15) and RBI (65). The former Brewer also has the best walk rate at his position.
Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York (Cano) -- With Dustin Pedroia bothered by injury, Cano has had this position secured all season despite a relatively slow start. Despite a slow start based on his past numbers, he leads all AL second baseman in home runs (20), RBI (51), average (.313), OBP (.374), SLG (.578) and OPS (.953).
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (Derek Jeter, New York) -- If Derek Jeter was still hitting close to .400, he would hold down this spot. However, the 38-year-old has slowed down and opened up the spot for a younger player. Cabrera leads the position in OPS (.832) and home runs (11).
Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (Adrian Beltre, Texas) -- Beltre was voted into the starting lineup by the fans, but only holds an advantage over Cabrera in one category (a two-point edge in batting average). The Tigers third baseman has the edge everywhere else. The fans swung and missed here.
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Texas (Hamilton) -- About as easy a pick as you can make given the surge of power he enjoyed in the month of May. Hamilton leads all of baseball in home runs (27) and RBI (75). He is also one of only five players with an OPS over 1.000.
Outfield: Jose Bautista, Toronto (Bautista) -- He does not possess as high of an average as Hamilton, but gets on base nearly as much and actually has the same number of home runs (27). The Blue Jay has a line of .244/.360/.540 with 65 RBI and only four more strikeouts than walks.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles (Curtis Grandson, New York) -- Granderson has more power than Trout, but this is the All-Star Game not the Home Run Derby. The rookie is in contention for AL MVP votes because of his tremendous success at the plate and in the field. If the season ended this week, Trout would also win the AL batting title (.341) and possesses some power as well (12 home runs, 40 RBI). Oh yeah, he can steal bases too (26).
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston (Ortiz) -- Big Papi may receive some criticism for how much he complains about his contract situation and perceived lack of respect in Boston, but he has been the lone bright spot at Fenway Park in 2012. He is hitting .312/.406/.607 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI. He is the only AL player, other than Hamilton, with an OPS above 1.00.
Starter: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles (Justin Verlander, Detroit) -- Weaver missed some time with injury, but is still tied for second in wins (10) behind only David Price and Matt Harrison (11). Weaver has a 1.96 ERA, the only pitcher in the AL with a sub-2.00 mark.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia (Buster Posey, San Francisco) -- The Phillies have been awful this season, but Ruiz should not be penalized. He is fourth among all NL hitters in batting average (.350) and first among catchers. His 13 home runs and 46 RBI are the best in the league, tied with Yadier Molina and Brian McCann in dingers and McCann in RBI.
First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati (Votto) -- Votto is hitting .348/.471/.617 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI, justifying the enormous contract he received from the Reds. He has drawn one more walk (65) than strikeouts (64) and owns an OPS of 1.087, the best in baseball.
Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati (Dan Uggla, Atlanta) -- Phillips leads second baseman in RBI (48) and is third in home runs (10). His batting line of .280/.322/.428 is not as good as that of Jose Altuve or Aaron Hill, but his power numbers give him the edge.
Shortstop: Ian Desmond, Washington (Rafael Furcal, St. Louis) -- Desmond pulled out of the All-Star Game as a reserve with a lingering injury that he has played through for more than a month. He has been the class of the league at short this season, pacing the position in home runs, RBI and flirting with the top averages.
Third Base: David Wright, New York (Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco) -- New York market be damned, Wright was not named to the starting lineup despite an unbelievable first half. He is hitting .351 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI and an OPS of 1.004. He is also the only NL first baseman with more walks than strikeouts.
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh (Melky Cabrera, San Francisco) -- The young outfielder has the Pirates playing plus-.500 baseball and hunting for October glory. He has one of the best batting lines in the game -- .362/.414/.625 with 18 home runs, 60 RBI and an eye-popping 1.039 OPS. He also has 14 stolen bases for good measure.
Outfield: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee (Carlos Beltran, St. Louis) -- Braun gets the nod over Beltran because his numbers are slightly better across the board. Braun has four more home runs and better averages, while Beltran has driven in four more runs. He might be starting for the NL on Tuesday night if his positive PED test and subsequent overturned suspension.
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (Matt Kemp, Los Angeles) -- I gave the nod to CarGo over healthy candidates like Cabrera, Matt Holliday and Michael Bourn because of his consistency in a light Rockies lineup. He has 17 long balls, 58 RBI and is flirting with one of the best OPS numbers (.967) in all of baseball.
Designated Hitter: Beltran, St. Louis -- I could have given this nod to either Cabrera or Beltran, but opted for the veteran at one of his former Major League cities. The DH is also a nice slot for the aging outfielder, who might one day be stuck at the spot.
Starter: R.A. Dickey, New York (Matt Cain, San Francisco) -- There are logistics that make it difficult for a knuckleballer to start, but the Mets right-hander was so clearly the class of the league that I could not pass him over. He is tied with Gio Gonzalez (Nationals) for the league-lead with 12 wins and has the best NL ERA (2.40). He trails only Stephen Strasburg in strikeouts.
I will unveil my All-Star reserves in a separate piece.