MLB All-Star Rosters 2012: What AL, NL Starting Lineups Should Look Like
Every year when the all-star rosters are released, it shakes the foundation of the baseball world, causing a tidal wave of arguments among baseball fans and analysts.
Personally, I blame this on the fan vote for the initial quake.
Some people like the fan vote because, after all, it is the "fans' game." But some people hate it because it leaves lesser-known players out of the lineup who should have been on it.
I'm somewhere in the middle of that argument, because the fans are certainly important, but I'm also sick of seeing players unnecessarily voted in.
So, let's take a look at what the starting lineups would look like if the fan vote was abolished.
Actual: Mike Napoli
Rightful: Joe Mauer
There is no doubt Napoli is one of the best catchers in baseball today. But, he hasn't had the best start in 2012, as he is only hitting .233 with 30 RBI.
Meanwhile, Joe Mauer is blowing away all other AL catchers, hitting .327 with a .872 OPS. One could make the case for A.J. Pierzynski who has better power numbers with 15 home runs and 48 RBI, but I would argue that Mauer's 38 RBI would be higher if he wasn't on a struggling Minnesota Twins' team.
He has been carrying the Twins all year long and has more at-bats than any other AL catcher. After carrying that weight, he should be rewarded by an all-star starting spot.
Actual: Prince Fielder
Rightful: Paul Konerko
Prince Fielder isn't a bad choice by the fans, as his average is hovering around the .300 benchmark to go with 12 home runs and 55 RBI to lead all first basemen.
Konerko is hitting the cover off the ball at .333 with an incredible .954 OPS. He has 14 home runs, but only 42 RBI. I would call this an overall offensive push between these two, but what really makes the difference for me is defense.
At first base, errors directly contribute to bases and runs for the wrong team with all the foul ground behind the bag. Fielder has made seven errors while Paul has made only one. Game, set, starter: Konerko.
Actual: Robinson Cano
Rightful: Robinson Cano
No argument here. Cano is the best second baseman in baseball and the best player on an all-star-studded Yankee lineup. He's the captain of the AL Home Run Derby squad and rightfully so. He has belted 20 home runs on the year on his way to a .960 OPS.
I can't find anything bad to say about Cano, because there isn't anything bad to say about of him and he will go down as one of the best players of our generation. He's a true product of the NY Yankee farm system and how they held onto him through all the trades for guys like Alex Rodriguez, I have no idea.
Actual: Adrian Beltre
Rightful: Miguel Cabrera
This is actually a close one. Beltre has had a great year hitting .325 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI with his OPS at .879. But, simply put, Cabrera has been better.
Their averages are almost identical, as Cabrera is currently at .323, but Miggy's power has set him apart. He has belted 18 home runs to go with a .949 OPS and the second-highest RBI total in the AL at 68. That kind of run production has to be enough for a starting spot.
Actual: Derek Jeter
Rightful: Asdrubal Cabrera
In the few years past, Jeter being a starter has been a much more glaring mistake. This year, the choice isn't so bad. He obviously isn't back to where he was in his prime, but he has seen a revival at the plate, as he his hitting .303 and leading all shortstops with 103 hits.
However, Asdrubal Cabrera is second in the MLB among shortstops slugging .483 and leads all shortstops with a .853 OPS. This is alongside 11 home runs and 42 RBI, eclipsing Jeter's seven homers and 25 RBI, and edging him for the rightful starting spot.
Actual: Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista
Rightful: Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout
First of all, I want to get it out of the way that Josh Hamilton is a no-brainer. If the MLB hired a team of chimpanzees to do the all-star selections, they would pick Hamilton and be rewarded a bushel of bananas. Hamilton is destroying the ball well on his way to winning the AL MVP and is the biggest no-doubter on the squad.
Now, the hard part. The AL has plenty of talented outfielders including the other two selected, Granderson and Bautista. The two are near the top of the league in power numbers, but both have abysmal batting averages (.241 and .247 respectively). They deserve a place on the team, especially considering Granderson's defensive abilities, but they shouldn't be starters.
Instead, they should be switched with two AL reserves from Los Angeles in Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Trout leads all AL outfielders hitting .343 in his rookie season. His power numbers are relatively modest (10 HR, 36 RBI), but what did it for me were the AL-leading 23 stolen bases and the nice defensive plays he has been making so early in his career.
The Angels' other MT, Mark Trumbo, has had nothing less than a breakout season. He has raised his batting average .066 points from last season, as he is hitting .310 with some power. Trumbo has more RBI than Granderson at 55 and has hit the 20 home run first-half milestone. While the Angels' big offseason addition, Albert Pujols has been rather mediocre, the Trout and Trumbo combo have carried them to a lead in the wild-card race.
Actual: Buster Posey
Rightful: Carlos Ruiz
Everyone loves Buster Posey. There's no denying that the former Florida State Seminole is a great player but he hasn't been the best at his position this year.
That distinction goes to Carlos Ruiz who has been the entire Philadelphia offense in the absence of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. His OPS is other-worldly at 1.017, and he leads NL catchers with 46 RBI and a .357 average, and is tied with Yadier Molina with 13 home runs.
The biggest difference between Posey and Ruiz is defensive, however. Ruiz has caught 25 would-be base stealers compared to Posey's 14.
Actual: Joey Votto
Rightful: Joey Votto
Much like Josh Hamilton and Robinson Cano, there is no arguing that Joey Votto should be the starting NL first baseman and he will challenge Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen for the NL MVP.
Votto leads the MLB in OPS at 1.097 thanks to a .628 slugging percentage, not to mention his .350 batting average. He is the main reason the Reds are just one game back in the NL Central.
Actual: Dan Uggla
Rightful: Aaron Hill
The selection of Dan Uggla to the starting 2012 NL All-Star starting lineup will go down as one of life's mysteries alongside Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza. Nobody knows how this happened. He is hitting .229 with 94 strikeouts on the season to go with nine errors in the field.
The NL lacks a standout star at second base like the AL's Robinson Cano, but the rightful selection here is either Aaron Hill or Brandon Phillips, but not Uggla. I'll give Hill the slight nod over Phillips as the starter because his offensive numbers are a bit better.
He leads NL second basemen in on-base percentage, slugging and (obviously) OPS as a result. He has a .989 fielding percentage (slightly lower than Phillips) and has turned 39 double plays. Either Phillips or Hill would be a great choice here.
Actual: Pablo Sandoval
Rightful: David Wright
This is another big swing-and-a-miss by the all-star voters. Sandoval is having a decent year, hitting .313 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in just 47 games played.
But David Wright has been hitting about as well as anyone in the MLB. He joins Votto, Hamilton, McCutchen and Ruiz as the only five players with an OPS over .999. He is tied with Votto for the fourth-best average in the NL at .350 and leads all NL third basemen with 55 RBI.
Why is he not starting?
Actual: Rafael Furcal
Rightful: Willie Bloomquist
Rafael Furcal has had a decent year, but decent shouldn't garner a starting spot on the all-star team. There are two shortstops who have had better years than Furcal in Willie Bloomquist and Starlin Castro.
Bloomquist has hit for a nice average at .301 but his power numbers aren't there (he hasn't hit a single home run).
Castro, meanwhile, has supplied some nice power from the shortstop position with six home runs and 40 RBI. However, Castro has been awful defensively, making 13 errors. On the other hand, Bloomquist has been the best defensive short stop in the NL, making only three errors for a .985 fielding percentage (Furcal is second with seven errors).
At shortstop defensive reliability is vital. Edge: Bloomquist.
Actual: Melky Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Matt Kemp
Rightful: Andrew McCutchen, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Braun
Andrew McCutchen not starting is about as much of a mystery as Dan Uggla starting.
The Cutch has had one of the best first halves in baseball and is an early leader for the NL MVP. He has made only one error, leads the MLB in batting average at .360 and has stolen 14 bases to go with 54 RBI and 16 home runs.
He is the Pirates' five-tool star and has played a massive role in the revival of the franchise. The chimpanzees that selected Hamilton would have taken McCutchen too, something the voters failed to do.
Cabrera, Beltran and Kemp aren't bad selections. Melky certainly deserves to be a starter, as he has been one of the best hitters in the MLB with a .354 average.
Kemp would definitely have been a starter (and probably an MVP candidate) if he hadn't been hampered by injuries. But, with all that missed time, I find it hard to give him the starting nod.
My third choice came down to Beltran and Braun who have had nearly identical season statistically. I chose Braun, partially for argument's sake and partially because he has been slightly better than the apparently rejuvenated Beltran.
Beltran has been slightly stronger defensively, but Braun leads the NL in home runs, which (along with his 13 stolen bases) was the deciding factor. Both are all-stars but I would give Braun the starting spot.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know below!
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