Welcome to my 4th almost annual (sorry I missed last year) Welcome to Halftime MLB All-Star Game prediction post. This year the 84th MLB All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. While the Home Run Derby should feature frustrated sluggers trying to hit the ball over the fence in the spacious ballpark, the all-star game never seems to disappoint. Here is the list of AL & NL players that I believe deserve to play in baseball’s showcase of it’s best players.
Catcher: J. Mauer, MIN (.315, 8 HR, 29 RBI) It seems every year, as long as he's healthy, Joe Mauer zwill start the All-Star game. Other than being only one of two starting catchers in the AL with an average over .300, the main reason Mauer should be the starter is the rest of the field is so weak. His 3.5 WAR for a team 10 games under .500 (puts him 10th overall in the AL) also helps his cause.
First Base: C. Davis, BAL (.327, 32 HR, 83 RBI) I am ecstatic that the Tigers signed Prince Fielder a year ago, because choosing between Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera would have been more difficult than choosing between a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription. Luckily, Cabrera is now playing third base, so the AL leader of Runs, Hits, Doubles, Home Runs, RBI’s, AVG, OBP, SLG, WAR & mammoth shots over the Camden Yards walls is a no-brainer.
Second Base: R. Cano, NYY (.295, 20 HR, 57 RBI) It should be worth something that Cano has avoided the Yankees injury bug like A-Rod tried to avoid a drug test. Cano leads AL second basemen in HRs & RBIs while batting in front of Travis Hafner (.220 AVG) one night, & Vernon Wells (.232 AVG) the other nights.
Third Base: M. Cabrera, DET (.364, 26 HR, 85 RBI) This pick was harder than it seems, with young Manny Machado breathing down Cabrera’s neck. Machado actually has a better WAR than Cabrera halfway through the MLB season & is on pace to shatter the single season doubles record. However, Cabrera leads all AL third basemen in Hits, HRs, RBIs & AVG (in 43 fewer ABs than Machado). Machado’s time will come.
Shortstop: J. Hardy, BAL (.256, 15 HR, 46 RBI) Normally, I do not base my picks on Home Run and RBI counts, but Hardy’s lead in the AL in those categories makes him a strong case to start. Hardy also has 30 less strikeouts in 28 fewer at-bats than Jhonny Peralta, who would be the other candidate to start.
Designated Hitter: D. Ortiz, BOS (.319, 16 HR, 59 RBI) They should just rename the DH the D.O. (Ortiz’s initials) because no other DH has made an impact on the position since Edgar Martinez. This is not even close, and it makes Ortiz that much more of a lock that he didn’t play his first game of the season until April 20th and still leads AL DH’s in all the major categories. No DH in the NL park, but there still is a vote for one.
M. Trout, LAA (.314, 13 HR, 55 RBI)
The 2013 AL outfield class is the weakest in years. After a slow start, Trout has really picked it up. He batted .261 in April, but since then has hit .327 in May and .358 in June. He also has 20 SBs to go along with his fine season.
A. Jones, BAL (.291, 15 HR, 59 RBI)
After a breakout season last year, Jones has continued with his great overall play. He is fifth in the AL with 15 HRs, and second in RBIs & Hits.
J. Ellsbury, BOS (.303, 2 HR, 30 RBI) The AL leader in SBs (33) is a pick for all the lead off hitters out there that get no respect. Ellsbury also is tied for fifth in in the AL in hits.
Pitcher: M. Scherzer, DET (13-0, 3.09 ERA, 139 SO) Who would have thought the AL starting pitcher would come from Detroit and not be named Verlander. Scherzer is the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to go 13-0 to start a season. Scherzer is also second in both SOs and WHIP. There is a chance Scherzer can break down like Ubaldo Jimenez did after a strong start in 2010, but for now, Scherzer is the hottest pitcher in baseball.
G. Balfour, OAK (0-1, 1.85 ERA, 21 SV)
B. Colon, OAK (11-3, 2.78 ERA, 61 SO)
Y. Darvish, TEX (8-3, 2.78 ERA, 151 SO)
F. Hernandez, SEA (8-4, 2.69 ERA, 130 SO)
G. Holland, KC (2-1, 1.97 ERA, 19 SV)
H. Iwakuma, SEA (7-4, 2.60 ERA, 103 SO)
J. Johnson, BAL (2-6, 3.83 ERA, 29 SV)
J. Masterson, CLE (10-6, 3.48 ERA, 125 SO)
M. Moore, TB (11-3, 3.65 ERA, 92 SO)
J. Nathan, TEX (1-0, 1.43 ERA, 28 SV)
G. Perkins – MIN (1-0, 1.99 ERA, 20 SV)
M. Rivera, NYY (1-1, 1.44 ERA, 28 SV)
C. Sale, CHW (5-7, 2.79 ERA, 114 SO)
J. Veres, HOU (0-4, 3.38 ERA, 17 SV)
C. Santana – C, CLE (.266, 10 HR, 38 RBI)
E. Encarnacion – 1B, TOR (.271, 23 HR, 66 RBI)
D. Pedroia – 2B, BOS (.325, 5 HR, 49 RBI)
J. Kipnis – 2B, CLE (.301, 13 HR, 54 RBI)
J. Donaldson – 3B, OAK (.314, 14 HR, 55 RBI)
E. Longoria – 3B, TB (.294, 17 HR, 48 RBI)
M. Machado – 3B, BAL (.319, 6 HR, 42 RBI)
J. Peralta – SS, DET (.307, 7 HR, 38 RBI)
N. Cruz – OF, TEX (.269, 20 HR, 61 RBI)
J. Bautista – OF, TOR (.261, 19 HR, 50 RBI)
Each AL team has atleast 1 representative on the All-Star Team
All-Star Rosters are 33 players, 9 Starters
Players on the DL where not considered
Catcher: Y. Molina, STL (.351, 6 HR, 45 RBI) Talk about choosing between a rock and a hard place when it comes to Molina and Buster Posey for who should start at catcher. Both are batting over .300, and only 3 RBI and .1 in WAR separate the two slugging catchers. It has to go to Molina, because his team is on top of the wild card race while the world champion Giants are sitting in last place in the NL west.
First Base: P. Goldschmidt, ARI (.302, 20 HR, 69 RBI) In only his second full season, Goldschmidt has already matched his career high in home runs. He is the NL RBI leader and fourth in both HRs and WAR.
Second Base: M. Carpenter, STL (.320, 8 HR, 36 RBI) Picking Matt Carpenter says more about the poor crop of NL second basemen than it does about the year he's having. The HR leader (Uggla) is batting .199. Brandon Phillips’ numbers are inflated batting cleanup in a hitter's paradise. Daniel Murphy and Marco Scutaro are not all-stars. That just leaves Carpenter, who is on pace for 200 hits this season.
Third Base: D. Wright, NYM (.306, 13 HR, 43 RBI) An All-Star game at Citi Field would not be complete without the Mets captain starting in the position he has held down since 2004. Wright is second in the NL in WAR for a team 12 games under .500 (see Mauer). Wright leads all third basemen in AVG & hits. He's third in RBIs, second in HRs, and has an impressive 14 SB – 1 CS ratio (also leads third basemen in SB).
Shortstop: J. Segura, MIL (.323, 11 HR, 33 RBI) It’s a shame Segura wasted his rookie eligibility last season, because it would have been a fun race between him and Puig for the NL Rookie of the Year. Segura, the main piece in the trade that sent Zach Greinke to the Angels last year, leads NL shortstops in AVG, Triples & WAR. He is second in SBs (26).
A. McCutchen, PIT (.299, 9 HR, 44 RBI)
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in the NL. These are the same Pittsburgh Pirates that have not had a winning season in 20 years. The face of their franchise needs to start the all-star game because Pirates fans know this might be the high point of the season if another second half collapse is in the waiting for them. After a slow start, McCutchen has batted .324 in May & .303 in June. He is second in NL outfielders with a 4.4 WAR. Hold your breath Pirates fans, the race to the finish line might be as rough as the turns on the Cyclone.
M. Cuddyer, COL (.343, 15 HR, 52 RBI)
I recently visited Coors Field on the day Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to 24 consecutive games, the Rockies franchise record. The crowd gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, cheering his name and showing posters with his name on it. The streak that started on May 27th ended 27 games later, and Cuddyer played himself into starting the All-Star game.
C. Gonzalez, COL (.295, 23 HR, 62 RBI) The other slugging outfielder for the Rockies, CarGo leads NL outfielders in HRs and RBIs. While the trade rumors have been around all year for Gonzalez, he continues to blast home runs over the Coors Field walls.
Pitcher: M. Harvey, NYM (7-2, 2.27 ERA, 141 SO) There is something special about the starting pitcher for the all-star game coming from the host team. Special is a great word to describe the year Matt Harvey is having. He leads the NL in SOs & WHIP. He is 5th in ERA. Harvey has taken three no hitters into the 7th inning this season. If it wasn’t for a lack of run support and the bullpen blowing games he would have a lot more than seven wins right now. The Mets are 12 games under .500, but at no fault is Harvey.
A. Chapman – CIN (3-3, 2.57 ERA, 20 SV)
P. Corbin, ARI (9-1, 2.49 ERA, 59 SO)
J. Fernandez, MIA (5-4, 2.72 ERA, 94 SO)
J. Grilli, PIT (0-1, 2.15 ERA, 28 SV)
C. Kershaw, LAD (7-5, 1.93 ERA, 126 SO)
C. Kimbrel, ATL (2-2, 1.72 ERA, 23 SV)
C. Lee, PHI (9-2, 2.59 ERA, 115 SO)
J. Locke, PIT (8-1, 2.12 ERA, 69 SO)
S. Miller, STL (9-6, 2.80 ERA, 107 SO)
R. Soriano, WSH (1-1, 2.31 ERA, 22 SV)
A. Wainwright, STL (11-5, 2.36 ERA, 117 SO)
T. Wood, CHC (5-6, 2.69 ERA, 80 SO)
J. Zimmermann, WSH (12-3, 2.46 ERA, 85 SO)
B. Posey – C, SF (.312, 12 HR, 48 RBI)
A. Craig – 1B, STL (.325, 10 HR, 66 RBI)
J. Votto – 1B, CIN (.323, 14 HR, 39 RBI)
B. Phillips – 2B, CIN (.269, 12 HR, 63 RBI)
P. Alvarez – 3B, PIT (.243, 21 HR, 56 RBI)
E. Cabrera – SS, SD (.305, 4 HR, 24 RBI)
I. Desmond – SS, WSH (.282, 15 HR, 49 RBI)
C. Beltran – OF, STL (.305, 19 HR, 50 RBI)
D. Brown – OF, PHI (.279, 22 HR, 60 RBI)
C. Gomez – OF, MIL (.311, 13 HR, 39 RBI)
S. Marte – OF, PIT (.287, 8 HR, 26 RBI)
Each NL team has atleast 1 representative on the All-Star Team
All-Star Rosters are 33 players, 9 Starters
Players on the DL were not considered