Fans vote for the starters in the MLB All-Star game which means one thing: it's a popularity contest. Year after year we see the American League starters as a Yankees and Red Sox All-Star team featuring Ichiro or Josh Hamilton. There are usually a few guys who get a deserving start, but it's rare that the fans get it right all the way through. The 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City is under a month away, so here are the players who, as of now, deserve to be starting.
AJ Pierzynski, White Sox
This was a tough one between Pierzynski and Mauer, but I gave my vote to AJ. He's one of the most hated players in baseball so there's no way he gets voted in by the fans, but Pierzynski is having a great season in Chicago. He's hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs and has helped make the White Sox contenders in the Central division.
Other deserving players: Joe Mauer (MIN), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS), Matt Wieters (BAL)
Paul Konerko, White Sox
Another close one here between Konerko and Prince Fielder, but again I gave my vote to a White Sox player. Konerko leads AL first basemen with a .348 average and is amongst the leaders in runs (35), home runs (13), and RBIs (39) at his position. Konerko has been one of the most underrated players in baseball for years and finally deserves some respect.
Other deserving players: Prince Fielder (DET), Chris Davis (BAL), Mark Teixeira (NYY)
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Cano leads AL second basemen in average (.299) and home runs (15) and is second in runs scored (48) and RBIs (35). He is by far the best second basemen that the American League has to offer and is a run producing machine for the Bronx Bombers.
Other deserving players: Ian Kinsler (TEX), Jason Kipnis (CLE)
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
There are three deserving shortstops in the American League, but my vote goes to Andrus. He leads shortstops in runs scored (43) and stolen bases (13) while Derek Jeter leads in average and Asdrubal Cabrera is towards the top in every offensive and defensive category. All three will likely make the team, but it looks like Jeter will be starting.
Other deserving players: Derek Jeter (NYY), Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Cabrera has consistently been one of the best hitters in the game and this year is no different. He's hitting .303 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs, by far the most at the position. As of June 18th he was trailing Adrian Beltre in voting, but expect Miggy to make a run for the starting spot.
Other deserving players: Mark Trumbo (LAA), Adrian Beltre (TEX), Brett Lawrie (TOR)
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Adam Jones, Orioles
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Hamilton will most likely be the leading overall vote getter and deservedly so. He's hitting .331 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs. Adam Jones is having a break out year and may end up getting enough votes to start. Jones is tied for the lead amongst outfielders with 47 runs scored and he also has power with 18 home runs and 39 RBIs. Jose Bautista is only hitting .232, but he gets my vote thanks to his 46 runs, 22 home runs, and 52 RBIs.
Other deserving players: Josh Willingham (MIN), Alejandro De Aza (CWS), Curtis Granderson (NYY), Austin Jackson (DET), Alex Rios (CWS)
Chris Sale, White Sox
I promise I'm not biased towards the White Sox. Chris Sale has been dominant this year as a starter after converting from the closer role. He's 8-2 with a 2.24 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 88.1 innings pitched. Sale also has a minuscule 0.96 WHIP.
Other deserving players: Jered Weaver (LAA), CJ Wilson (LAA), Justin Verlander (DET), Jason Hammel (BAL), Jake Peavy (CWS), Colby Lewis (TEX), David Price (TB)
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
Ruiz has been a fan favorite in Philadelphia for years and is finally beginning to get attention around the league. However, the fact that he is currently third in voting at catcher is ridiculous. Chooch leads NL catchers in average (.347), runs (30), and RBIs (38) and is fantastic defensively. He won't start, but he'll make the team as a reserve.
Other deserving players: Yadier Molina (STL), Buster Posey (SF)
Joey Votto, Reds
With Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols now in the American League, Joey Votto is the obvious pick to start at first base for the NL. He has by far the best average of any first basemen at .363 and he's also hit 13 home runs and driven in 45 runs, both are best at his position. And, just for good measure, he's stolen 4 bases. Votto will run away with the starting spot and has been the first half MVP in the National League.
Other deserving players: Bryan LaHair (CHC), Paul Goldschmidt (ARI), Carlos Lee (HOU)
Jose Altuve, Astros
The 5'7", 22 year old second baseman for the Astros is having a very impressive year. Altuve leads second basemen with a .308 average and has scored 44 runs and stolen 12 bases. He's starting to get his name out there, but I can't see him winning the starting job.
Other deserving players: Dan Uggla (ATL), Aaron Hill (ARI), Brandon Phillips (CIN)
Starlin Castro, Cubs
Could you imagine a starting middle infield featuring a Cub and an Astro? Castro has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubbies this year, hitting .302 with 38 RBIs and 16 steals. He's one of the best young players in the game and will be making many All-Star appearances in the future.
Other deserving players: Rafael Furcal (STL), Ian Desmond (WAS)
David Wright, Mets
It's good to see Wright playing like his old self. He's hitting a whopping .361 and has scored 47 runs and driven in 40 more. He's the leader of a young Mets team and is a big reason why they are playing such good baseball. Wright is in a tight race for the starting job, but should win out at the end.
Other deserving players: David Freese (STL), Chase Headley (SD)
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Ryan Braun, Brewers
Melky Cabrera, Giants
I should note that Matt Kemp is not on here because of his injury. He is the best player in baseball, but should not start because he hasn't been healthy enough to accumulate the stats. As for the guys who should start, Carlos Gonzalez has been phenomenal for the Rockies, hitting .332 with 51 runs scored, 17 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun is having another great year hitting .321 with 47 runs, 20 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases. Finally, Melky Cabrera is having a break out year in San Francisco. He is hitting a league leading .363 with 48 runs scored. It looks like Braun and Cabrera will battle it out for the third starting spot while Gonzalez is way back in the voting.
Other deserving players: Matt Kemp (LAD), Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Carlos Beltran (STL), Michael Bourn (ATL), Andre Ethier (LAD), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
RA Dickey, Mets
Dickey has been the best story of the first half in the MLB. The knuckleballer has been virtually untouchable and leads the league with 11 wins, a 2.00 ERA, and a .89 WHIP. He is also third in strikeouts with 103 in 99 innings pitched. Having Dickey on the mound will be tough for whoever is catching, but it will also be an advantage going from him to a flamethrower like Stephen Strasburg out of the bullpen.
Other deserving players: Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Gio Gonzalez (WAS), Lance Lynn (STL), Cole Hamels (PHI), Zack Greinke (MIL), Matt Cain (SF), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Ryan Dempster (CHC), James McDonald (PIT), Wade Miley (ARI)
1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Robinson Cano, 2B
3. Josh Hamilton, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
5. Jose Bautista, LF
6. David Ortiz, DH
7. Paul Konerko, 1B
8. Adam Jones, CF
9. AJ Pierzynski, C
1. Starlin Castro, SS
2. Carlos Beltran, DH
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Joey Votto, 1B
5. David Wright, 3B
6. Carlos Gonzalez, CF
7. Melky Cabrera, RF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Jose Altuve, 2B