Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My NL All-Stars

Here are my picks for the National League All-Star team. The National League has always been my favorite league so these picks will probably be a tad better than what you saw for the junior circuit. Again I abide by all traditional selection rules (Yes, the Nationals do get an all-star, imagine that.)

C-Geovany Soto (.284, 13, 48)
There are a few guys that have had good seasons as far as NL catchers are concerned, but Soto’s season stands out for its uniqueness. No one since Mike Piazza in 1993 has won the NL Rookie of the Year as a catcher. It is such a great crop of rookies and Edison Volquez is going to have something to say about the award, but make no doubt about it, Soto is the best rookie catcher since Piazza. To see a rookie catcher come in and handle a pitching staff like the Cubs that has them in first place is exactly why Soto should see himself starting in Yankee Stadium.

1B-Lance Berkman (.361, 22, 68, 12 SB)
This is, by far, the most stacked position in either league. Pujols, Gonzalez, Fielder, Howard, Jacobs, Lee, Teixeira, and Votto could all make compelling cases to make the team and not even half of that list will make the team. This position should definitely yield the biggest All-Star snub that will be debated on hours of ESPN programming. Berkman though has stood out head and shoulders in front of a remarkable group. His all around statistical compilation should perhaps have people talking as much about him winning the NL Triple Crown as they do about Josh Hamilton winning the AL version. Add to the Triple Crown category the 12 stolen bases, which for a big man like Berkman, is unbelievable. Fat Elvis is getting it done this year for sure.

2B-Chase Utley (.298, 23, 65)
It is a two man race in the National League at second base, and Utley comes out at the break by a nose. What Dan Uggla has been able to do after struggling to start the year just speaks of his momentous hot streak ability, but Utley has picked up right where he left off last year. We could be talking about the reigning NL MVP had he not gotten hurt down the stretch last year, but Utley is once again bidding for the award his teammates love. I would say that Uggla has a great chance to be the starting DH for the game in the AL home park.

SS-Hanley Ramirez (.298, 20, 41, 20 SB)
Does 20/20 at the break equal 40/40 at the end of the season? It probably does for Ramirez, who is quietly one of the top 5 players in the game. A tremendous speed/power combination, many think he will one day he will be the first to 50/50 in a season. I would say the only barrier to this is the cavernous Dolphins Stadium, where Ramirez just signed an extension to call Miami home for quite a while. It will be great to see this Marlin in his first all-star game this season

3B-Chipper Jones (.393, 16, 46)
With respect to David Wright, this race ended after the first month of the baseball season. Jones has gotten wide notoriety for flirting with .400, and this could be the season in which he has cemented his future Hall of Fame candidacy and induction. Not many think that Jones can actually hit .400 over a full season, but he has kept it going deeper in the season than anyone has in awhile. Most importantly, there is no way he wouldn’t win the fan vote. This guy is the talk of all water cooler/fringe baseball fans this year.

OF-Ryan Braun (.278, 20, 58), Carlos Lee (.287, 18, 63), Ryan Ludwick (.284, 16, 56)
While this wouldn’t be the most aesthetically pleasing outfield in terms of defense, boy, these guys can rake. This won’t be how it works out in the fan voting, so Clint Hurdle won’t have to concern himself with the defensive shortcomings. Braun started tremendously slow, but has shown as of late that there will be no sophomore slump. Mr. El Caballo, Carlos Lee, is always one of the most consistent run producers in the league. And then we get to…Ryan Ludwick? Ludwick has already topped his career highs in HR and RBI and is the first half MVP of the surprising Cardinals. One can only wonder where this guy came from, but for Cardinal fans like myself, it’s just one final testament to the success of Walt Jocketty.

C-Brian McCann (.298, 14, 45)
1B-Adrian Gonzalez (.288, 21, 68), Albert Pujols (.355, 17, 47)
2B-Dan Uggla (.289, 23, 58), Brandon Phillips (.284, 14, 51, 16 SB)
SS-Miguel Tejada (.289, 10, 43), Christian Guzman (.315, 5, 27)
3B-David Wright (.288, 16, 65)
OF-Nate McLouth (.282, 15, 53), Alfonso Soriano (.283, 15, 40), Corey Hart (.293, 14, 52, 12 SB)

Starting Pitcher- Edison Volquez (10-3, 2.24, 113 K)
This guy is just unprecedented baseball history in live action. A rookie who could start the All-Star game and win his leagues’ Triple Crown needs to be watched carefully. Pitchers like Volquez come around maybe once every 20 years. What a swap of Edison Volquez for Josh Hamilton in the off-season. I would have to say both teams should be pretty happy with what they got. Hamilton may be the best hitter in baseball this year and Volquez is possibly the best pitcher.

Rest of Staff
Tim Lincecum (9-1, 2.38, 114 K)
Dan Haren (8-4, 2.85)
Brandon Webb (12-4, 3.21)
Ben Sheets (9-2, 2.83)
Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94)
Carlos Zambrano (8-3, 3.13)
Aaron Cook (11-5, 3.38)

Brad Lidge (19 svs, 0.82)
Billy Wagner (19 svs, 1.85)
Hong-Chih Kuo (3-1, 1.94)

These guys could make their case: Russell Martin, Bengie Molina, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Mike Jacobs, Derek Lee, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto, Mark DeRosa, Jose Reyes, Garrett Atkins, Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Aramis Ramirez, Mark Reynolds, Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Matt Holliday, Xavier Nady, Chris Young, Johan Santana, Ryan Dempster, Cole Hamels, Todd Wellemeyer, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Lohse, Kerry Wood

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