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Should-be 2011 National League All-Star Roster

July 1, 2011

I started my last post with, “Baseball fans are idiots.”

Maybe I should correct that statement: American League baseball fans are mostly idiots.

That’s better. AL all-star voting was full of frauds and over-hyped, under-producing big-market players who aren’t producing. The NL voting is much different. As of the last voting update on the 28th, all eight position leaders were worthy of their spot. There could be a couple arguments (namely, Matt Kemp fourth among outfielders) but overall the NL voters have done a very good job.

Catcher

Fans vote: Brian McCann

My vote: McCann

McCann is easily the best NL catcher, and if the AL ends up starting Russell Martin the NL will have a big advantage at catcher.

First base

Fans: Albert Pujols* (Obviously he’s injured and won’t be able to play in the game, therefore…) Prince Fielder

Me: Fielder

It’s going to be close between Fielder and Votto at the top now, but I’ll take Fielder at first to start with because he’s been killing the ball all year long.

Second base

Fans: Rickie Weeks

Me: Weeks

Weeks and Brandon Phillips were separated by roughly a million votes in the last update so the starter could change, but once again, I’m going with the power upside of Weeks over the defense of Phillips. The AL’s roster is stacked with power hitters so I’m trying to match them as much as I can.

Third base

Fans: Placido Polanco

Me: Chase Headley

Ryan Zimmerman’s been hurt and hasn’t done anything when he’s played. David Wright’s currently hurt. Should I go with Chipper Jones or Pablo Sandoval? I don’t think so. Headley’s San Diego’s lone representative, and while his numbers don’t blow you away, his .394 OBP is eighth among all NL players, his 40 walks is ninth most and his 22 doubles are tied for tops in the league. I’ll bat him at the bottom of the order, obviously, and his OBP skills can help set the table for a dangerous top of the lineup.

Shortstop

Fans: Troy Tulowitzki

Me: Jose Reyes

One of the lone mistakes by fans in the NL voting, Tulowitzki’s having a fine year, but Reyes has been one of if not the best player in all of baseball this year. Tulo will be on the team easily, but Reyes deserves to start the game. He also gives the NL the speed/leadoff threat it needs.

Outfield

Fans: Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday

Me: Ryan Braun, Lance Berkman, Matt Kemp

Let me set this straight: Matt Holliday is having a great year. Matt Kemp is having an even better year. Holilday’s been sidelined twice this year while Kemp has played in every game. When you think about it, Braun has been absolutely ridiculous this year, and Berkman’s resurgence in St. Louis is just a remarkable story. But Kemp has been better than all of them, honestly. It’s a good thing there’s a DH spot though…

Designated Hitter

Fans: The NL’s manager chooses once the starters are determined

Me: Matt Holliday

This spot should go to whoever ends up fourth among outfielders, but chances are the NL manager will pick Ryan Howard or Votto, which is a shame. Holliday and Kemp are better hitters than either of those two, and both have had better years so far anyway.

Reserves

Catcher – Yadier Molina – No need to waste another spot on a backup catcher. Molina’s having a very good offensive year and his defense is second to none. … First base – Joey Votto, Ryan Howard, Michael Morse – Howard and Votto will provide great bench options; Votto should be the one to play in the field late in the game due to his defense. Morse deserves to be on the team; his OPS is 58 points higher than Howard’s. … Second base – Brandon Phillips – We’ll put Phillips in midway through the game to benefit from his defense. … Third base – Placido Polanco – I wouldn’t mind having Polanco pinch-hit in a tight situation late in the game. … Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki, Starlin Castro – Maybe I need to just go back to my original ‘baseball fans are idiots’ position. How else can you explain Alex Gonzalez and his .274 OBP ranking fourth in NL shortstop voting and Yuniesky Betancourt and his eight walks and .260 OBP ranking fifth? All this while Starlin Castro isn’t in the top five, even though he has a .344 OBP, 21 doubles, seven triples and 107 hits. Castro is the lone Cubs rep. … Outfield – Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Michael Bourn – Pence leads all NL outfielders in hits; McCutchen is on the verge of superstardom, and has 11 homers, 15 steals and a very nice .384 OBP; after a slow April, CarGo averaged 5.5 homers and five steals while hitting .316 in May and June; similar to McCutchen, Upton is putting together his finest year yet, batting .304 with a .385 OBP, while being on pace for 26 homers and 28 steals; Bourn will be used as a pinch runner in the late innings, and he could be a defensive replacement as well. Somehow, Gonzalez is the top vote getter among these four, but he only ranks 10th among NL outfielders. Upton is 13th in the voting, but Pence and McCutchen are nowhere to be found. But Jason Heyward, who has fewer hits than Nate freaking Schierholtz, is ninth in the voting. Other guys ahead of Pence and McCutchen: Raul Ibanez, Corey Hart and Carlos Gomez.

Pitchers

Starters: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmermann, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw – If I was managing this squad I’d be really tempted just to let Halladay or Lee throw a complete game. But then I wouldn’t be taking advantage of Hanson’s .193 opponents’ average, or Hamels’ .252 opponents’ OBP, or Kershaw’s .304 opponents’ slugging percentage or his 9.87 K/9. Zimmermann had a 0.85 ERA in June; Sanchez is averaging more than a K per inning; Jurrjens is beating all these guys in ERA. This pitching staff is loaded – and the bullpen is even sicker.

Relievers: Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo, Craig Kimbrel, Joel Hanrahan – Kimbrel (14.27) and Romo (13.32) rank second and third, respectively, in K/9 among all NL pitchers; Clippard is eighth, and has a 0.89 WHIP. Hanrahan is tied for second in saves, with 23, but is perfect in save opportunities; he also has a 4:1 K:BB and has only given up earned runs in four appearances this year.

Snubs: A few that come to mind are Matt Cain, Ian Kennedy and Tim Stauffer. Concerning my list, Miguel Montero would be a snub, but I just don’t see the need for three catchers.

Batting Order

  1. Reyes – he’ll be my re-entry player
  2. Braun
  3. Kemp
  4. Fielder
  5. Holliday
  6. Berkman
  7. Weeks
  8. Molina
  9. Headley
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