Philadelphia Phillies: Quarter-Mark All-NL East Team
As we come up to the 25 percent mark of the season, it's time to acknowledge the All-NL East team to date. Just 5.5 games separate first place from last place so there is still so much to be determined.
Big stars such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Mike Morse haven't even seen the field yet but the following have all performed at a high level making them front-runners for this season's All-Star Game in Kansas City.
First Base: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals
LaRoche has been solid for the Nats hitting .325-6-25 and an impressive .975 OPS. He is also terrific with the glove. The Nats have overcome some injuries to consistently be at the top of the NL East and LaRoche has been a big part of that.
Second Base: Omar Infante, Miami Marlins
Infante was a surprise All-Star two years ago but he wouldn't be a surprise anymore. Infante is hitting .325 with a surprising six home runs and 19 RBI. Stars Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez have disappointed so far in Miami but Infante has really been special.
Third Base: David Wright, New York Mets
Wright is no stranger to All-Star teams and when healthy, he is one of the premier three-baggers in all of baseball.
Wright leads the National League with a .408 batting average and .497 on base percentage. The Mets are a surprising 20-16 and Wright is the main reason why.
The five-time All-Star will probably be making his sixth appearance this season.
Shortstop: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
The NL East has been known for incredible SS play. Jimmy Rollins won the NL MVP in 2007 and Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez are perennial All-Stars. So far this season, Ian Desmond is having the best season. Desmond is hitting .277 with four home runs and 14 RBI while adding 20 runs scored as well.
It appears with Reyes and Rollins under performing and Ramirez now at third, the NL East is not quite what it once was at this key position.
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
Chooch has never played in an All-Star game but is making a bid to do so this season.
More than likely the MVP of the Phillies so far in 2012, Ruiz is hitting .337 with six home runs and 23 RBI. He has always been known as a great handler of the pitching staff and it appears at 33 years old, Ruiz has hit his prime.
Left Field: Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves
Left field isn't the strongest position in this division but Prado has been a consistent member of the Braves' first-place lineup all season.
Martin is hitting .301 with two home runs and 19 RBI. The former infielder is solid in left and a terrific situational hitter.
Center Field: Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves
Bourn is off to a blazing start hitting .340 for the Braves with 27 runs scored. The gold glove center fielder has terrific range and has never gotten on base like he has this season sporting a .399 OBP.
Right Field: Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies
This one was close between Pence and Giancarlo Stanton of Miami. Pence gets the nod for the power and production he has provided a team sorely lacking in that area.
Hunter is hitting .255-9-25 which would equate to .255-36-100 over the course of a 162 game schedule. He's too good of a hitter to stay in the .250's as his career .291 average will point to.
Right-Handed Starter: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Strasburg was named NL pitcher of the month for April and is 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA on the season.
The flame-throwing righty has struck out a league leading 56 hitters in 48 innings. The Nats have been protective of their "golden child" as he has only averaged six innings per start.
Left-Handed Starter: Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
Gonzalez and Hamels are basically neck and neck.
Gonzalez gets the nod with the better ERA and WHIP at 1.94 and 1.00. Also, Gonzalez has not allowed a home run yet this season while also leading the NL in strikeouts per nine innings at 10.8.
The 2011 AL All-Star looks to be a sure bet to join the NL team in 2012.
Reliever: Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins
Cishek has been sensational posting a 4-0 record and a 1.56 ERA appearing in 16 games. He's allowed just 11 hits in 17.1 innings and is threatening to take over the closer role from Heath Bell.
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Papelbon is 10-for-10 in save situations and sports a 2.40 ERA. That edges out Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel who has saved 11-of-12 and sports a 2.57 ERA.
Opponents are hitting just .173 off Paps and his WHIP is a very impressive 0.87.
Manager: Terry Collins, New York Mets
The Phillies, Nationals, Marlins and Braves all came into the 2012 season with high expectations. The Mets? Not so much. Nevertheless, Collins has the team playing hard for all 27 outs and their late inning heroics are becoming a habit.
The Mets are 20-16 and if the season ended today, it would be in the postseason.
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