Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Look at the 2012 MLB All-Stars

I am such a nerd, I know this.  I adore debating all-stars for any given league.  There's always someone voted in who didn't deserve it, someone who shouldn't be starting, and someone who got snubbed.  It makes for spectacular debating and just a fun time for a super nerd like me.  With injuries, schedule conflicts, and just plain not wanting to play, look for a lot more guys to be added in over the next coming weeks.  Those guys trickling in usually make up for the snubs, but I always look at them as the back-up all-stars, not quite on the level of the guys originally voted on.  The guys I shall be talking about, that is.

American League Starters

Catcher - Mike Napoli (Texas Rangers)
First guy I'm discussing and he's my biggest problem.  Mike Napoli is a product of a great team with a great fanbase getting their guy in.  His numbers are not all-star worthy and there are several other catchers who are having a better season than him.  I wouldn't have Napoli in the all-star game, period, let alone as a starter.

First Base - Prince Fielder (Detroit Tigers)
Prince is having a very good season for Detroit, definitely an all-star worthy one.  Definitely NOT as a starter, though.  There's a guy in Chicago named Paul Konerko who is tearing the cover off the ball and is arguably the best hitter in baseball.  Not to mention Konerko's White Sox have been in first place much of the first half, where Detroit has been the biggest disappointment in the league.

Second Base - Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
I literally just watched Cano hit a home run while typing this.  There isn't a second baseman in the MLB who is on his level and he definitely deserves to start the all-star game.  He started off a bit slow, for his standards, but has been red hot since then.  The only thing that stopped Texas fans from voting in their guy, Ian Kinsler (who would have been undeserving as a starter), was New York fans making sure their guy got in.

Third Base - Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers)
Another Ranger!  Texas fans came out in full-force this season.  It used to be nothing but Yankees and Red Sox.  Looks like Boston has been replaced by Texas.  This one, however, I have no qualms with.  Beltre is having a spectacular year and is actually quite underrated in the baseball world.  I have no issues with him getting some recognition.

Shortstop - Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)
Derek Jeter has been a spectacular story this year.  His numbers were on the decline, to an extent, the past several seasons, but 2012 has been a resurgence.  He's one of the greatest players of the past decade plus and he's still getting his named penciled in as a starter for the all-star game.  So many have come and gone, but he's remains consistent.

Outfield - Josh Hamilton (Texas Rangers)
I feel like I shouldn't even need to discuss Hamilton.  He's the MVP of the American League so far and has had ridiculous power numbers.  The most deserving American League all-star of them all.

Outfield - Curtis Granderson (New York Yankees)
Curtis Granderson has really excelled for New York in the past 2 years.  His power numbers are what really propel him into the realm of one of the better hitters in the league.  He's a dangerous lefty with tons of speed and tons of power.

Outfield - Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
I love Jose Bautista's swing, probably my favorite one in all of baseball.  I was actually surprised that Bautista managed to get voted in as a starter.  Playing for a middle of the pack team in Toronto definitely doesn't lend itself to a ton of exposure, but give the guy credit, his huge home run power has garnered him some attention.  Deservedly so.

Designated Hitter - David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)
DH is a thin position, so it's no surprise that Ortiz was voted in.  He's head and shoulders above everyone else as a DH and has been hitting the cover off the ball this year.  There's not another DH in the American League that is close to him.

American League Pitchers

Ryan Cook (Oakland Athletics)
I'm ecstatic that Cook managed to get named to the team.  He has been invaluable for not only his surpisingly decent Oakland team, but also my fantasy team!  He has gone from being the best set-up man in baseball to being one of the more dominant closers.  Probably one of the most underrated players in baseball this year.

Matt Harrison (Texas Rangers)
Matt Harrison was a middle of the pack starter for the first 2 months of the season, but he has really turned it on lately.  One of the hotter starters in the past 4 weeks or so has propelled him into the leaderboards and a quality all-star selection.

Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)
Gotta love it when someone like King Felix is having a subpar year, for his standards, but he's still an all-star.  He's a player that would be the most talked about pitcher on ESPN if he played in New York, but gets lost in the shuffle in Seattle.  Still one of the best hurlers in the game.

Jim Johnson (Baltimore Orioles)
One of those guys that I am thrilled to see make the team.  Baltimore has done surprisingly well and managed to keep it going up until the all-star break.  Jim Johnson has been one of the best closers in all of baseball this year and I wouldn't be surprised if he was counted on to close the game should the AL find themselves leading.

Joe Nathan (Texas Rangers)
Good story down there in Texas.  Joe Nathan was abysmal for Minnesota last year, but went ahead and found himself a home in Arlington and been the closer for one of the best teams in baseball.  Well deserved for one of the better guys in baseball.

Chris Perez (Cleveland Indians)
Had to give Cleveland a pitching all-star to reward them for their decent first half.  I would rather see set-up extraordinaire Vinnie Pestano get a nod, but it's not like Chris Perez is having a bad season by any means.  I have no issues with this in the long run.

David Price (Tampa Bay Rays)
David Price does not get nearly enough credit.  He's the best starting pitcher on one of the better teams in baseball.  His numbers have been fantastic and he is definitely in consideration to start the all-star game for the American League.

Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay Rays)
I love Fernando Rodney.  He is the best closer in the American League, if you ask me.  He stepped in for an injured Kyle Farnsworth to be the closer for Tampa and hasn't looked back.  He has been the anchor for that team.

CC Sabathia (New York Yankees)
Much like Felix Hernandez, CC has been having a subpar year for his standards, but is still definitely an all-star.  He just got placed on the disabled list, so I wouldn't be surprised if he missed the all-star game.

Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox)
Chris Sale has been electric for the White Sox this year, since being moved from the bullpen.  He has dominating, top of the league numbers, and is my choice for American League Cy Young and should be the starter for the American League.

Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
It was going to be impossible for Verlander to follow up his historic 2011 season in which he got the MVP and Cy Young awards.  He's still doing phenomenal and a candidate to start this game for the American League.

Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels)
Jered Weaver was my preseason pick for American League Cy Young.  Even though I believe Chris Sale is the first half Cy Young, I don't think he'll keep up the ridiculous numbers all season long.  I still expect Jered Weaver, who has a no-hitter to his credit this season, to be the 2012 Cy Young.

C.J. Wilson (Los Angeles Angels)
Funny thing about the Angels staff, Jered Weaver hasn't even been the best pitcher on it.  That distinction belongs to C.J. Wilson, who has had great numbers as usual.  He has really flourished since being moved to the rotation a few years back.


Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins)
Definitely okay with this selection.  Mauer has hit great for Minnesota this year and really established himself again as one of the most consistent hitting for average players in the bigs.

Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles)
Really?  It's the inclusion of Matt Wieters and snubbing a guy like A.J. Pierzynski that makes me shake my head.  AJ is slugging over .500 right now, where Wieters is batting below .250.  Not a deserving all-star at all.

Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers)
Can't get a much better choice than Andrus here.  He's as solid as they come.  Bats for average, can steal bases, and is probably the best fielding shortstop in the league.

Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland Indians)
I adore Asdrubal Cabrera, one of the more fun players to watch in baseball.  I'm all for him getting his 2nd straight all-star selection.  The more exposure and notoriety this guy gets, the better.

Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
Another year, another great hitting performance from Miguel Cabrera.  He's one of the best pure hitters in baseball, but I like that he's a reserve this year, rather than starting.  Him and Beltre are exceptional hitters, but Miguel is an awful fielder, so this is definitely the correct decision.

Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers)
I love Ian Kinsler, but he really frustrates me.  Is he an all-star?  Definitely.  He's one of the better 2nd baseman in the league, I just feel like he could be better.  He's a poor man's Chase Utley, but I think he has the ability to be as good, if not better than Chase Utley and propel himself to the level of Robinson Cano.  He just needs to be more consistent.

Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox)
Pretty stupid that Konerko isn't starting this game at first base for the American League.  He is the most underrated player in all of baseball and a future Hall of Fame inductee when he decides to hang it up.

Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles)
I'm an Adam Jones guy.  He's one of the best all-around players in the game and if it were up to me, he'd be starting this game over Curtis Granderson.  He does everything Granderson does, except hits for a better average, is faster, and a better fielder.

Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
This is Mike Trout's world, we're just living in it.  I love this kid.  He hits for power, average, has speed, and is an amazing fielder.  He has the catch of the year and is already making people wonder if he just might be not only the Rookie of the Year, but also the MVP.

Mark Trumbo (Los Angeles Angels)
First Mike Trout and now Mark Trumbo.  Ladies and gentlemen, if you think the Angels are dead in the race for the AL Pennant, think again.  Trout and Trumbo are two young and spectacular players and will be rocking this Angels uniforms for quite a while.

Billy Butler (Kansas City Royals)
Billy Butler, aka the rule that each team needs to have an all-star representative, only has one job.  He's a DH and all he is supposed to do is hit the ball.  To his credit, he does it quite well.

Adam Dunn (Chicago White Sox)
I have a tough time accepting Adam Dunn's low batting average, but when you're as bad as he was last year, I suppose all he could do was go up.  His power numbers are off the charts and he's back to the Adam Dunn we used to know.

Final Vote
Jonathan Broxton (Kansas City Royals)
Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers)
Ernesto Frieri (Los Angeles Angels)
Jason Hammel (Baltimore Orioles)
Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox)
Is there a write-in vote for A.J. Pierzynski?  I guess not.  Either Yu Darvish or Jake Peavy are going to win this vote.  Texas proved they have the fan power to vote in players and Chicago has a great history when it comes to final votes, as they proved so in the past.  My vote will go to Ernesto Frieri, though.  He has been enormous for Los Angeles since being traded from San Diego.

National League Starters

Catcher - Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
Buster Posey is good, but he's not the best catcher in the National League.  Hell, he's not even the 2nd best.  He shouldn't be starting this game.  I'm fine with him on the team, though.

First Base - Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
Here is your National League MVP so far.  Votto has carried the Reds to the top of the NL Central standings and is a well deserved starting first baseman.  To be honest, with the loss of Fielder and Albert Pujols in the National League, first base has become a very thin position.  Votto will dominate for years to come.

Second Base - Dan Uggla (Atlanta Braves)
The second base position is so thin, a guy playing as mediocre as Uggla is considered a starting all-star.  That being said, Jose Altuve should be the starter.  Uggla has no business being on this team, his inclusion means Aaron Hill is snubbed.  Hill has hit for the cycle TWICE this season, but Dan Uggla gets the honor.

Third Base - Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco Giants)
San Francisco came out in drones when it came to voting, because much like Buster Posey, we have an undeserving starting job for a Giant.  Sandoval, who has missed time on the disabled list, beat out David Wright for the starting spot, even though Wright has been one of the best hitters in baseball.  Not the right choice.

Shortstop - Rafael Furcal (St. Louis Cardinals)
Furcal got off to a blazing start for the 2012 season, but has since cooled down.  He still has good numbers, so I don't fault him for being the starter.  We'll see if he can turn it back on in the second half.

Outfield - Melky Cabrera (San Francisco Giants)
Here's one the San Francisco fans got right.  Cabrera has been insane for this team and the most consistent performer in the lineup day in and day out.  I'm happy to see him starting this game for the National League.

Outfield - Carlos Beltran (St. Louis Cardinals)
100% deserving for Carlos Beltran.  The guy has really bounced back ever since some forgettable years in New York.  He had a nice little emergence last year in San Francisco and has come to form here in 2012.  Some speed as returned seeing as how he has played some center field and even stole some bases this year as well.

Outfield - Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers)
When healthy, Matt Kemp is one of the best players in baseball, if not the best.  His numbers have been outrageous, but he's having troubles staying on the field.  I thought he should have been the MVP last year and if he could fix his durability issue this year, he'd be the MVP for real.


Matt Cain (San Francisco Giants)
Here's a guy who may not only be the starter for the National League in the all-star game, but also the National League Cy Young.  His perfect game this season was marveling to watch and he's a must-see pitcher going right now.

Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati Reds)
It was just a matter of time for this Cuban missile.  Chapman has stuff that was just too good to be relegated as a set-up man.  He's now the closer for the Reds and hurling 100+ MPH fastballs at petrified batters.  One of the most exciting pitchers in the game.

R.A. Dickey (New York Mets)
If you ask me who should be starting the all-star game for the National League, my vote would go to R.A. Dickey.  This knuckle ball hurling bearded wonder has dazzled fans and perplexed hitters.  He throws his knuckle ball with more velocity than batters are used to and seems to have control over it.  His stretch the past month has been impressive, to say the least.

Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals)
The NL pitching staff is so deep and amazing this year, here's another guy that has a case for starting it.  Gio has help lead a stunningly good pitching rotation for the first place Washington Nationals.  American League hitters are going to have a hell of a time against this pitching.

Cole Hamels (Philadelphia Phillies)
Save for his stupid little dust-up with Bryce Harper earlier this season, Hamels has been a bright spot for an otherwise disappointing Philadelphia team.  In a year where the Phillies have played abysmally and stuck at the bottom of their division, Hamels has continued to pitch great.

Joel Hanrahan (Pittsburgh Pirates)
The Pirates are currently 2nd place in the Central division.  Gotta give this team some credit, for so long they've been a punchline, but it's a team on the rise.  Hanrahan has been as solid as they come in the closer role.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Kershaw is a spectacular pitcher, multiple all-star games, and even a Cy Young to his credit.  He's also only 24 years old.  There's plenty of time for this young lefty to carve out an incredible baseball career. 

Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves)
For my money, Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in all of baseball.  If I need 3 outs to win the World Series and can pick any closer to come in to try and get them, it would be this kid.  His stuff is lights out and his strikeout numbers are unreal.  He would be my choice for closer for the National League in the all-star game.

Lance Lynn (St. Louis Cardinals)
Not sure that many people were predicting Lance Lynn to have the type of rookie season he's having right now, but he's been fantastic.  He's been at the top of the leaderboards since day one and has an argument for being named the starter for the National League.

Wade Miley (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Gotta love these stories that come out of nowhere.  Miley is the Diamondbacks lone representative in this game, but it is well deserved.  He's been the anchor for this staff and he wasn't expected to be any more than a bottom of the rotation guy for this season.  Definitely impressive.

Jonathan Papelbon (Philadelphia Phillies)
Gotta give it to Papelbon.  Since coming to Philadelphia this year from Boston, he hasn't missed a beat. His stuff is as dominating as ever and I imagine his numbers would be even better if Philly was winning more.

Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals)
I love me some Stephen Strasbrug.  He was my preseason pick for NL Cy Young and he certainly has a shot at it.  He also is in consideration for being the starter for this all-star game.  Him and Gio Gonzalez make up a terrifying 1-2 punch for the Nationals.  I'm beginning to think it may be time for Washington to take off the kid gloves with Strasburg and stop limiting him.  Let the world see what he's really got.

Huston Street (San Diego Padres)
There's not much to brag about in San Diego, but Huston Street has been a very nice little bright spot.  He has done consistently well as their closer, despite missing time on the DL.  San Diego needed a representative and Street was definitely the most deserving guy.


Yadier Molina (St. Louis Cardinals)
The catching position is deep in the National League and Yadier Molina has been neck and neck with Carlos Ruiz for the top spot.  Yadier is putting up very good power numbers, as well as hitting for average and being a beast on defense.

Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia Phillies)
No, there is not another catcher who is better than Carlos Ruiz in baseball right now.  His average is ridiculous, he's putting up career high power numbers and has solid defensive ability as well.  It's a joke that Buster Posey is starting over him.

Bryan LaHair (Chicago Cubs)
I was really pleasantly surprised to see that LaHair had made the all-star team.  He tore it up for the Cubbies early on, but definitely fizzled lately.  His numbers are still nice and his story is a good one.  Floundering around in the minors for years to finally getting a shot being an all-star.

Jose Altuve (Houston Astros)
Unfortunately for Jose Altuve, he plays in Houston, so nobody knows who he is.  They also don't know that he's a much deserving all-star and should be starting this game for the National League instead of the undeserving Dan Uggla.

Starlin Castro (Chicago Cubs)
I thought, when it came to the Cubs, it would have to be a choice between Bryan LaHair and Starlin Castro.  I didn't think both of them would make it, but they did.  They both have the numbers to back up the selections, so I'm happy to see the recognition.

Ian Desmond (Washington Nationals)
It's nice to have a year where Ian Desmond has finally put it all together.  He's always been a very good fielder and now he's hitting, even for a decent amount of power as well.  Just goes to show you, if you're able to get your act together and work hard, you'll be rewarded with some recognition.

David Wright (New York Mets)
Such a shame that David Wright is relegated to reserve role for this game.  His numbers are great and much better than Sandoval's and he hasn't missed any time either.  The voters did not get this one right.  A rare case of an east coast team getting screwed over by a west coast team.

Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
It's a very loaded outfield group in the National League, so Ryan Braun and a number of other guys take a backseat.  I wonder if Braun and the guy he stole the MVP from last year will have any awkward moments in the clubhouse.  The National league's home run derby captain, Matt Kemp, did not choose Braun to represent the league.

Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds)
Jay Bruce is a lot like Ian Desmond.  He's always had the talent, just needed a year where he really put it together.  The past two years have been the ones for him and he gets rewarded with his 2nd straight all-star appearance.

Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies)
It is shocking to me to know that this is Carlos Gonzalez's first all-star game.  The guy won a batting title and was an MVP candidate in 2010, but it took him until now to finally get some recognition?  Very sad on behalf of the voting, but a long time coming for this stud.

Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)
I could argue that McCutchen should be starting this game over Matt Kemp.  His numbers have been impressive, the Pirates are winning, but he still doesn't get quite as much attention as I feel he deserves.

Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)
Stanton is one of my favorite players in baseball and this is the first of what should be many all-star appearances.  He has great power and is my choice to win this year's Home Rune Derby.

Final Vote
Michael Bourn (Atlanta Braves)
David Freese (St. Louis Cardinals)
Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals)
Aaron Hill (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves)
The most deserving guy on this list is probably Michael Bourn.  He is having an amazing season, but the outfield core in the National League is just so deep.  It's going to be difficult for him to win, unless the Atlanta fans decide they're just going to vote for him, but because Chipper Jones is on this list as well, the voting may be split.  Truth be told, I'd like to see Bryce Harper in the game.  I think he's deserved it.  He's still a teenager and still playing at a high level.

I think the National League ends up winning this game.  Their pitching is superb and those studs in the outfield will be the difference.

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