Who Would Be MLB All-Star Game Starters If Game Were Played Today?
Almost a full month of baseball is in the books in the 2012 season, and there have already been many memorable moments, including a perfect game by Phil Humber and a no-hitter by Jered Weaver.
There have been some pleasant surprises, such as Bryan LaHair, and some unexpected disappointments after four weeks of action.
We have seen veteran players off to scorching starts, like Derek Jeter, and veteran players who are being outplayed by young guys just trying to make an impact this season.
There are a handful of guys who are looking to stay hot and remain in the hunt to play in their first All-Star game this season.
The game will be held at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, on July 10th.
Although there are many players who are worthy of being in contention, only ten guys from each league have made the list.
We begin in the American League with a player having a breakout year on a surprisingly competitive team.
AL Catcher: Matt Wieters
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Matt Wieters is finally breaking out in his fourth year for the Baltimore Orioles. Wieters showed signs of maturing last year when he doubled his home-run total from the previous year, hitting 22 last season compared to 11 in 2010.
Through 22 games this season, Wieters already has seven home runs to go along with 17 RBI and a .303 average.
The 2007 first-round pick of the Orioles is finally beginning to look like the player that many had hoped he would be.
AL First Baseman: Paul Konerko
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Paul Konerko is having another All-Star season for the Chicago White Sox. Konerko is hitting .344 through his first 24 games with five home runs, nine doubles, 16 RBI and 13 runs.
Konerko might be 36 years old, but he is only getting better with age. In the last two seasons he has hit 70 home runs and driven in 216 runs. This season he appears to be on track for another impressive season.
AL Second Baseman: Ian Kinsler
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There is no surprise here. Ian Kinsler has started the year red hot for the Texas Rangers.
Through 25 games this season, Kinsler has five home runs, eight doubles, two triples, 15 RBI and a ridiculous 27 runs scored.
With Robinson Cano off to a slow start, second base is up for grabs, and Ian Kinsler has snatched it away from everyone else.
AL Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter set fire to the month of April and refuses to cool off as May gets under way.
Jeter is leading the New York Yankees with a .404 batting average and ranks first in the AL with that average.
Jeter, who only hit six home runs all of last season, has already hit four home runs while scoring 18 times and driving in 13 runs.
One month into the season, Jeter looks like he is going to have one of his best seasons ever.
AL Third Baseman: Miguel Cabrera
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It is turning out to be just another great year for Miguel Cabrera. What is scary is that he has not even hit his stride yet this season.
Through 24 games this season, Cabrera is hitting .293 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs.
Cabrera and the Tigers started hot but have fallen back down to earth. It is not long before he is hitting well over .300 again.
AL Outfielders: Josh Hamilton
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Josh Hamilton appears to be the AL leader for the MVP award early on in 2012. Hamilton is hitting .395 through 22 games with nine home runs and 25 RBI.
Hamilton looks as good as he ever has. If he can stay healthy, then he will be taking home the MVP award this season.
AL Outfielders: Adam Jones
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Adam Jones is doing it all for the Baltimore Orioles early on this year. He is playing tremendous center field along with putting up phenomenal numbers.
He has slowly improved his numbers from year to year, but this year looks to be his biggest one yet.
Through 25 games, Jones has a .316 average to go along with six home runs and six doubles.
Jones has been consistent all season and shows no signs of slowing down as the summer heats up.
AL Outfielders: Curtis Granderson
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Curtis Granderson is off to another great start for New York. Surprisingly, he has gone a bit under the radar after his scorching start last season. His numbers are still among the best in the American League this season.
His nine home runs are tied for first in the American League. He has added 17 RBI and 19 runs thus far in 2012.
Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion
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He might not do it all year, but to this point in the season he is impressing everyone with his bat.
Encarnacion has hit nine home runs and driven in 24 runs. He is having a career year to this point and would fill the role nicely of the DH, since the game is being played in an American League ballpark.
AL Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver
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Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter on May 2 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and made a strong push with that no-no to be the starting pitcher for the AL All-Star team.
Weaver is 4-0 in six starts this season with two complete games. He has struck out 45 batters in 44.2 innings while walking only seven and pitching to a 1.61 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.
Weaver is shaping into one of the best pitchers in the MLB and would get the nod to start the All-Star game at this point of the season.
AL Closer: Fernando Rodney
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Fernando Rodney has been perfect for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. He has converted all nine of his save opportunities and has only allowed one earned run.
He has a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched and has struck out 12 batters. He is tied for the major league lead in saves this season.
National League Starters: Catcher Yadier Molina
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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is continuing to impress this season. Although he trails Buster Posey in terms of average, he has twice as many doubles with ten, six more RBI with 15 and three more stolen bases with four.
Both players have four home runs.
I would give the nod to Molina this season to this point. Come time for the All-Star break, it will likely be Molina who receives the most votes then, as well.
NL First Baseman: Bryan LaHair
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LaHair is off to a terrific start this season for the Chicago Cubs. While Joey Votto has been productive, it is LaHair who stands out in the early season.
If the All-Star game were today, LaHair would be penciled into the starting lineup at first base.
LaHair, who only played in 20 games last season, has put up video-games numbers so far in 2012. Through his first 22 games played, he has hit .388 with seven home runs, eight doubles and 16 RBIs.
NL Second Baseman: Jose Altuve
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Jose Altuve is having an All-Star caliber season to this point at second base.
Through 24 games, the youngster for the Houston Astros has hit .358 while hitting seven doubles, three triples and stealing four bases.
He might not be recognized by too many people since he plays for the Astros, but he is putting up great numbers and will be in the running to be the starter at Kauffman Stadium in July.
NL Shortstop: Starlin Castro
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National League shortstop might be the most competitive position in the majors. Through the first four weeks, it appears to be Chicago Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro, who is standing out.
Castro has played in 25 games, hitting .333 with six doubles, two triples, a home run and ten stolen bases.
He had over 200 hits last season and looks to be on track to be around there again this season.
NL Third Baseman: David Wright
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David Wright appears to have come back into his 2010 form this season.
Wright is hitting .392 through 22 games this season. He has cut back a bit on his strikeouts, and he is putting up fantastic numbers early on. He has a .495 OBP, which is good for second in the majors.
Wright has stepped up and become the leader of this team after Jose Reyes went to the Miami Marlins.
NL Outfielders: Matt Kemp
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Matt Kemp is having the season that most MLB players can only dream of. He is well on his way to the MVP award this year and is a sure thing for the All-Star team.
He is hitting .411 with 12 home runs, 25 RBI and 17 walks in 25 games. It seems like every ball he hits has the chance to leave the ballpark.
Kemp is the easiest early-season All-Star selection as he is in the midst of a season that will be remembered for a long time.
NL Outfielders: Carlos Gonzalez
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Carlos Gonzalez is tearing the cover off the ball as of late. On the season to this point, he has a .310 average with seven home runs, 23 RBI and 21 runs.
Although CarGo had a good year last season, it appears that he is back to his form of two years ago when he hit 34 home runs and 117 RBI.
NL Outfielders: Ryan Braun
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The reigning NL MVP was off to a slow start but seems to have picked it up as of late.
He had a monster game at Petco Park in San Diego when he hit three home runs, a triple and drove in six runs.
His numbers on the season are on their way up. He currently sits at .283 with seven home runs and 17 RBI.
Designated Hitter: Andre Ethier
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Andre Ethier is a run-producing machine early on and will continue to be with Kemp batting in front of him. He has 27 RBI this year to go along with six home runs and a .287 batting average.
He is a great hitter and is the perfect designated hitter in this one.
NL Starting Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg
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Stephen Strasburg is impressing the league this season with his dominant pitching.
In five starts, Strasburg has a 1.13 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. In his 32 innings, he has only allowed four runs, struck out 34 batters and walked six.
He is supposed to be on an innings limit this season, but if the Nats are still in contention in the end of the year, it would be shocking if they shut him down.
If he continues to pitch all season, Strasburg will be in the Cy Young hunt for the first time in his career.
NL Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
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Jonathan Papelbon is on a new team and is making a name for himself in Philadelphia.
He is tied for the league lead in saves with nine and has not blow an opportunity all season. He has allowed one run in 11 innings while striking out 11 batters.
Papelbon has had no problems with the transition to a new league this season.