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MLB All-Star Lineups: If Fantasy Stats Decided the AL Starters

Tim KaranContributor IISeptember 30, 2016

MLB All-Star Lineups: If Fantasy Stats Decided the AL Starters

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    Don't listen to Jonah Hill. There's a lot more to baseball than just numbers.

    It's the things that can't easily be calculated (things like heart, leadership and influence) that make us connect with our favorite players. Even if you hit more home runs than anyone ever did in a single season, it doesn't mean a whole lot to your legacy if nobody liked you in the first place. (Just ask that one guy.) It's the intangibles (and a decent amount of endorsement deals) that help get players voted onto the All-Star teams. 

    That fact should be apparent when you look at the AL lineup—which includes at least a few sentimental favorites over players who have produced at a higher level. If you were going purely by fantasy stats, the starting lineup would look at least a little different.

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski

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    If you were to compare A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Mauer (the people's choice) in every possible way of defining "sexy," Mauer is going to sweep. There are few models swooning over Pierzynski in Head & Shoulders commercials.

    So it's understandable that Mauer got the nod.

    But if you're comparing Pierzynski and Mauer in every recordable fantasy stat, it's a little bit closer. Mauer's .325 average and three steals trumps Pierzynski's .285 and zero steals, but they're about even in runs. After that, it's all A.J. His 14 home runs are 10 more than Mauer has mustered, and his 45 RBI are nine more. 

    Bench: Joe Mauer (MIN), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS)

First Base: Miguel Cabrera

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    At least the all-star voters got the team right.

    Sorry, Prince Fielder. You've been good in your first half with the Tigers, but not as good as Miguel Cabrera. And although Cabrera is actually playing 127 feet away at third base, he also qualifies at first base.

    Why not go by their actual positions and say Fielder (last year's All-Star Game MVP with the Brewers) is the top first baseman? After all, Fielder is only a hair under Cabrera in almost every category. Cabrera has 16 homers, 62 RBI and a .315 average. Fielder has 12 homers, 59 RBI and a .294 average.

    So why not just give Cabrera third base? Because there was another third baseman (actually two) who were even better. 

    Bench: Mark Trumbo (LAA), Paul Konerko (CWS) 

Second Base: Jason Kipnis

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    If you were looking for the best AL second baseman of the past month, then Robinson Cano would unquestionably be your man.

    But if you were looking for the best AL second baseman in fantasy during the first half, then you'd have to look squarely at Jason Kipnis

    But wait! Doesn't Cano have 20 home runs to Kipnis' 11? And aren't they only separated by one RBI? And doesn't Cano's .325 average trounce Kipnis' .275? And hasn't Cano scored eight more runs?

    All true.

    But if you're looking at a 5x5 player rater, Kipnis gets the edge thanks to 20 stolen bases. (Cano has one.)

    Bench: Robinson Cano (NYY), Ian Kinsler (TEX)

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus

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    The only way Derek Jeter won't ever be voted onto the All-Star team is if he actively campaigns not to be elected to it. And even then, he would still be voted onto it.

    So it's no shocker that Jeter (the fourth-best fantasy shortstop in the AL) will be starting in the spot for the Junior Circuit. But Elvis Andrus (the guy who will take his place later in the game) should be the guy.

    Although he's only got five dingers (compared to, say, J.J. Hardy's 14) and only 31 RBI (compared to, say, Mike Aviles' 43), Andrus has been the best shortstop across the board. His .305 average and 16 steals both lead the position in the AL.

    Bench: Mike Aviles (BOS), Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)

Third Base: Adrian Beltre

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    While Miguel Cabrera and one other third base qualifier have put up better stats than Adrian Beltre, Beltre has been better than Prince Fielder—and that changed the look of this whole squad.

    Beltre has put up B+ numbers at the hot corner: 14 home runs, 52 RBI, 45 runs, one steal and a .328 average. But probably thanks in part to the injury to Evan Longoria, Beltre was actually voted to start the game in his third straight appearance. 

    Of course, Mark Trumbo might qualify at third in your league—and he has been something else. But Beltre has been just about as quietly solid-to-spectacular as anyone.  

    Bench: Brett Lawrie (TOR), Alex Rodriguez (NYY) 

Left Field: Josh Hamilton

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    Not only is Josh Hamilton the top left fielder in fantasy, he's been the first half MVP.

    He's cooled from his scorching early season pace, but his 25 home runs, 73 RBI and 51 runs still lead the position—and almost everyone else everywhere.

    Obviously, Hamilton is favorite in fantasy and reality, so he'll be on the field in Kansas City on July 10 and likely in the headlines on July 11 one way or another.  

    Bench: Mark Trumbo (LAA), Josh Willingham (MIN)

Center Field: Mike Trout

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    Sure, Curtis Granderson has been pretty good. He leads all AL center fielders in homers, RBI and runs.

    But wunderkind Mike Trout has been otherworldly.

    The rookie is batting .336 with eight homers, 32 RBI, 48 runs and 22 all-important steals. While Granderson has emerged as a 25-25 threat, Trout is the second coming of Rickey Henderson. He's also one of the most electric defenders roaming any outfield anywhere.

    Trout did get elected to the actual team as a reserve, but it's only a matter of time before he becomes the AL's annual representative at the position.

    Bench: Adam Jones (BAL), Alex Rios (CHW)

Right Field: Jose Bautista

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    Despite a little bit of a lumbering start (only three home runs through the end of April), Jose Bautista has exploded back into the surprise slugger he's been for Toronto.

    With 26 home runs, he's in line to lead the majors in that category for the third straight season, and his 63 RBI are 14 more than the next closest AL right fielder, Nelson Cruz.

    Bautista is one of the few guys starting the All-Star game in anything but a Yankees or Rangers jersey, but if we were going by fantasy stats, he wouldn't be the only Blue Jays player...

    Bench: Josh Reddick (OAK), Shin-Soo Choo (CLE)

Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion

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    If Josh Hamilton is the fantasy MVP, Edwin Encarnacion is the the AL's runner-up.

    Eligible at first base, third base and designated hitter, Encarnacion would have beaten out every other player at each one of those positions. But considering he's mostly been a DH for the Jays this season, it just didn't seem right to say David Ortiz should be the starter (like he is in real life).

    Although the numbers are close (Encarnacion has 22 HR, 55 RBI, 50 R and a .291 average while Ortiz has 21 HR, 53 RBI, 57 R and a .305 average), Encarnacion again takes the edge with speed—his eight steals are five more than any other DH.

    Still, it probably wouldn't feel like an All-Star game to many if Big Papi wasn't there.

    Bench: David Ortiz (BOS), Mark Trumbo (LAA)

SP: Justin Verlander

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    There are two AL starters who are in a different stratosphere from the rest. The fact that Justin Verlander is one of them shouldn't be all that shocking to anyone.

    Probably the first pitcher drafted in your league, the Tigers ace is unsurprisingly 8-5 with the most Ks (121), a sterling 2.69 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP.

    So who is No. 2? Hands up if you predicted in the preseason that it would be Chris Sale. The White Sox converted reliever is 9-2 with 94 Ks, a 2.27 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.

    After those two, there's a little bit of a gap before you get to Sale's ageless teammate—Jake Peavy—and a guy who threw a no-hitter in May—Jered Weaver

    Bench: Chris Sale (CHW), Jake Peavy (CHW), Jered Weaver (LAA), C.J. Wilson (LAA), David Price (TB), Felix Hernandez (SEA)

RP: Fernando Rodney

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    Sticklers might point out that Chris Sale is eligible as a RP, but let's look at relievers who do the one thing starters can't: get saves.

    While Baltimore's Jim Johnson has turned out to be the AL's unexpected leader in that category, the Rays' Fernando Rodney has been the most valuable as far as fantasy. He's got 22 saves in 23 opportunities, 35 Ks, a ridiculous 1.01 ERA and even more ridiculous .076 WHIP.

    In the meantime, Johnson's 23 saves, 1.30 ERA and .078 WHIP are still incredibly amazing, but not quite as amazing as who ended up being the next three closers in the AL fantasy pecking order.  

    Bench: Jim Johnson (BAL), Joe Nathan (TEX), Chris Perez (CLE), Ernesto Frieri (LAA)

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