Ryan Braun and the All-Interleague Team for the National League
And so another year of interleague play comes to an end.
The American League flexed its considerable muscle, compiling a 142-110 record against the National League. And with the Houston Astros moving to the AL next season, this was the last year we'll see this version of interleague play.
Next year, we'll have at least one interleague series every day, rather than having it in one chunk on the schedule.
Despite the AL's dominance overall, several NL players excelled during 15 games of interleague play. Maybe it was the weather warming up as the calendar moved into June and brought summer temperatures to ballparks throughout the country. Or maybe some NL players just thrived on competition with the AL.
Whatever the reason, here's our All-Interleague team for the NL with players for each position, a five-man starting rotation and a closer. Line these guys up against their AL counterparts, and we'd have a great All-Star Game.
NL All-Interleague Infield
First base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Naturally, the front-runner for National League MVP would have a place on an All-Interleague team. Votto batted 21-for-60 (.350) during interleague play with six home runs, six doubles and 15 RBI. He also drew 12 walks against AL pitchers.
Second base: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
Surprise! The best NL second baseman wasn't Dan Uggla, Jose Altuve or Brandon Phillips. Hill batted 20-for-60 (.333) with four homers and 12 RBI versus AL competition. That helped push Hill to 10 home runs, tied for second among NL players at his position.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
Facing AL pitching seemed to be an excellent tonic for Rollins at the plate. He batted 23-for-76 (.303) with four homers and nine RBI. If only the Phillies as a team could have fared so well in interleague play. Philadelphia lost 10 of its 15 games against the AL this season.
Third base: David Wright, New York Mets
As with Votto, it shouldn't be a surprise that Wright hit well during interleague play. He's hit well all season. Wright batted 23-for-54 (.426) against the AL with eight RBI, five doubles and six walks. Unfortunately, the Yankees got Subway Series bragging rights yet again, winning five of six games.
Catcher: Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks
Montero excelled against AL pitching, compiling a slash average of .326/.429/.652 in 14 interleague games. He hit four homers and drove in 16 runs. The success against the AL fueled a fantastic June for Montero, during which he's posted an OPS of 1.033 thus far with five games to be played.
NL All-Interleague Outfield
Left field: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun is looking like an MVP again, with his performance against the AL doing much to help his case. The Brewers left fielder batted 26-for-64 (.406) with six home runs, 19 RBI and seven walks. Braun especially benefited from facing the Minnesota Twins, against whom he hit 14-for-27 (.519) with four homers and 12 RBI.
Center field: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
After a brief slide, the Pirates are back in the NL Central race, one game back of the Cincinnati Reds. A major factor in their success is McCutchen, who has some MVP shine to him as well. McCutchen hit 23-for-68 (.338) during interleague play with five home runs, 16 RBI and four stolen bases.
Right field: Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
This may have been the toughest call of any NL position player. Jason Heyward was great in interleague play, batting 23-for-61 (.377) with three homers and eight RBI. But Beltran was even better, as you might expect from someone who's been putting up MVP-caliber numbers. He went 24-for-57 (.421) against the AL, slugging four homers and 12 RBI.
NL All-Interleague Starting Rotation
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
Interleague competition didn't scare Cueto. In three starts against the AL, he finished with a 3-0 record and 1.17 ERA. He also notched 21 strikeouts in 23 innings with only three walks.
A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates
This is probably news to the New York Yankees, but Burnett was excellent in four starts against the AL. (Maybe not having to face any AL East teams had something to do with that.) Burnett went 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He struck out 14 batters in 26 innings, but he also issued 12 walks.
Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins
In four interleague starts, the Marlins ace went 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA. He struck out 22 batters in 27 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.
Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks
Cahill is familiar with AL lineups, having pitched his first three major league seasons with the Oakland Athletics. That suited him well in three interleague starts. Cahill went 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA, adding 20 strikeouts in 20.1 innings.
R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
Dickey's third and final interleague start of the season didn't go so well, as he gave up five runs and five hits in six innings against the Yankees. But the other two starts were each complete-game one-hitters, which are pretty difficult to ignore. Dickey finished with a 2-0 record and 1.88 ERA against the AL, with 28 strikeouts in 24 innings.
NL All-Interleague Closer
Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals
There was one clear choice for the closer on our NL All-Interleague team. Since taking over the ninth-inning role for the Nationals, Clippard has been the shutdown closer that Davey Johnson had been searching for ever since Drew Storen began the season on the disabled list.
With Storen set to come back, Johnson told reporters, including CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman, that he's not moving Clippard out of the closer's role.
Why should he?
Clippard made 10 appearances during interleague play for the Nats. He didn't allow an earned run in 9.2 innings, while striking out 14 batters and walking three. Clippard notched seven saves in the process.
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