On Sunday morning, we watched the selection show for this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star festivities in Arizona. As always, fans and pundits threw up their hands in disbelief as their favorite players were left off of the rosters. I’ll admit to having raised an eyebrow when the show signed off and a few would-be heroes were omitted.
So, what left me wanting in the NL? Remember, I’m taking the grand, pie-in-the-sky approach to this. Sometimes the Win column doesn’t quite show how well a guy has thrown. Lee, Halladay, Shields and Verlanders live in rare air. Most pitchers can’t keep tossing through nine innings. It’s just a fact of this era. (Nine major league pitchers have thrown more than two complete games this season.)
C – Miguel Montero, ARI – (.270, 21 doubles, nine home runs, 40 RBI)
Analysis: Playing in his house with solid power production. I don’t believe there’s a whole lot else to be said here. There aren’t exactly a ton of guys to throw into the discussion.
1B – Albert Pujols, STL – (.279, 11 doubles, 17 home runs, 45 RBI, five SB)
Analysis: He’s in the crowded first base position and wasn’t having the Albert-like season we expected (until just before the injury), but he’s Albert. If everybody else gets the ceremonial thing, might as well just let him get the roster bonus, too.
2B/SS – Danny Espinosa, WAS – (.243, 13 doubles, 15 home runs, 48 RBI, nine stolen bases)
Analysis: The batting average leaves you wanting, but look at the other production. Espinosa’s on the radar as a rookie of the year candidate. I like the 32 EBH and stolen base total. Look to the future. The future!
3B – Aramis Ramirez, CHC – (.292, 20 doubles, 11 home runs, 42 RBI)
Analysis: The Cubs are flat-out awful, so there’s no need to pile up their players on the bench. I agree. Don’t get excited by his inclusion.
In fact, Ramirez’s numbers are bordering on Sosa-like status (you know … where the tallies have little impact). Still, those are pretty solid totals. I mean, I love Chipper Jones and all, but come on …
OF – Michael Morse, WAS – (.299, 15 doubles, 15 home runs, 46 RBI)
Analysis: Morse doesn’t run, but the preseason sleeper has outperformed huge free agent signee Jayson Werth by a mile.
OF – Andrew McCutchen, PIT – (.289, 20 doubles, 12 home runs, 43 RBI, 15 stolen bases)
Analysis: My theme is obvious. Bang the drum for those forgotten guys on teams nobody acknowledges. Seriously, the Pirates are sitting at two games over .500 and this guy is a five-category hero. Introduce him on the big stage in this contract year.
OF – Carlos Gonzalez, COL – (.294, 17 doubles, 12 home runs, 45 RBI, 14 stolen bases)
Analysis: It took a while, but Gonzalez finally got his game together and started hammering the ball. Those numbers are much better than you thought, right? Fans and fantasy owners killed him in the early going, but he’s now a five-category hero once again.
SP – Tommy Hanson, ATL – (9-4, 2.62 ERA, 3K/BB, 1.06 WHIP)
Analysis: He missed time because of injury, but that’s the only knock on him. Atlants is 10-5 in his starts and his 2.62 ERA ranks fourth in the NL.
SP – Jordan Zimmermann, WAS – (5-7, 2.63 ERA, 71 K/20 BB, 1.07 WHIP)
Analysis: He’s just a wish-list kind of guy. Forget about the wins for a minute. And, no, you can’t blame Drew Storen (converted 20-of-23 chances). Look at that middle relief and the lack of consistent offensive support. Zimmermann has been fantastic in his 16 starts. His ERA ranks fifth among qualified NL starters.
SP – Ian Kennedy, ARI – (8-2, 3.01 ERA, 97 K/30 BB, 1.09 WHIP)
Analysis: I know he’s in the vote. The peripherals are great. He boasts a strong strikeout rate & he’s playing at home. Get him in.
Finally, I give a nod to Kevin Correia of the Pirates. The overall stats aren’t world-beating, but dude has won 10 games for the Pirates BEFORE the All-Star break. Where’s the love?