Predicting All 30 MLB Teams' Guaranteed All-Star Representative

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2013

Predicting All 30 MLB Teams' Guaranteed All-Star Representative

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    Predicting the rosters for the MLB All-Star Game prior to the season starting, or even in the early going, is never an easy task.

    Each season, there are a handful of surprise players in both the AL and NL who emerge as All-Star-worthy, while injuries or age can mean result in a perennial All-Star sitting at home come July.

    With that in mind, here is my pick for each team's guaranteed All-Star representative. To clarify, this is not necessarily the player that is most deserving of an All-Star spot on each team at this point, but the one I think has the best chance of making the All-Star team come July.

Arizona Diamondbacks: SP Patrick Corbin

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    Last season, the Diamondbacks were playing solid baseball at the All-Star break, but they wound up with just one All-Star representative in rookie left-hander Wade Miley.

    It could be a similar situation this season, with Patrick Corbin the most deserving candidate at this point. Corbin has gone 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA through six starts.

    First baseman Paul Goldschmidt should have the numbers at the break, but he's behind Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez right now and may have to wait another year to earn election.

Atlanta Braves: RP Craig Kimbrel

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 2

    Justin Upton is off to a tremendous start in his Braves tenure, but he has been a streaky hitter throughout his career and could very well follow up that hot first month with an equally quiet one.

    The starting pitching has been terrific, led by the trio of Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor. But the three will need to continue to pitch at a very high level, as name value alone won't help them get into the All-Star game at this point.

    Therefore, my pick here is the flame-throwing closer Craig Kimbrel. He is the consensus top reliever in the game, and he's put up solid numbers once again this season, so expect him to be there come July.

Baltimore Orioles: CF Adam Jones

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 2

    The Orioles lineup has been as good as any so far, and Chris Davis (9 HR, 30 RBI) has been one of the biggest stories in all of baseball.

    Davis, along with catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and closer Jim Johnson, appears to have a solid chance of earning an All-Star nod.

    The safest bet to be an All-Star, though, has to be center fielder Adam Jones. He set career highs across the board last year while emerging as a bona fide star, and he's currently hitting .331 with 22 RBI.

Boston Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 3

    The Red Sox are off to a hot start this season, and a number of players are having All-Star-caliber seasons as a result.

    Chief among them may be right-hander Clay Buchholz, who is 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA through his first seven starts. But given his up-and-down track record, a regression of sorts over the next month or so is possible.

    So my pick here is Dustin Pedroia, who has a .403 OBP thanks to 38 hits and 20 walks. Second base is fairly deep in the American League, with Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Jose Altuve all playing well. But Pedroia seems like a fairly safe bet to be an All-Star.

Chicago Cubs: SS Starlin Castro

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 2

    An All-Star each of the past two seasons and one of the best young hitters in all of baseball, Starlin Castro had 529 hits in three big league seasons entering the year.

    The starting pitching trio of Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood have been solid, and slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo has the tools to be there, but all of those guys have a number of choices ahead of them.

    Castro is hitting just .277 with a .697 OPS so far this season. But shortstop in the National League is a fairly weak position, so he has a decent chance if he can pick up his play a bit. Troy Tulowitzki is in a good position to start at shortstop now that he's healthy, and both Jean Segura and Ian Desmond have been solid there as well.

Chicago White Sox: RP Addison Reed

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    The White Sox are off to a rough start this season, despite having essentially the same roster as last year, and the bright spots have been few and far between.

    One positive has been the continued progression of 24-year-old closer Addison Reed, who went 29-for-33 on save chances with a 4.75 ERA as a rookie last season and has been even better this year.

    So far, he's 11-for-12 this year with a 2.40 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings of work, continuing his climb up the ranks of the closing elite.

Cincinnati Reds: 1B Joey Votto

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 3

    The Reds entered the season as one of the favorites in the National League. Having acquired Shin-Soo Choo to fill the roster's biggest hole, they were as complete a roster as any in baseball.

    Choo, along with No. 2 starter Mat Latos, have both putting up fantastic numbers so far, and both are in position to be first-time All-Stars.

    The safest best, though, is first baseman Joey Votto, who has been an All-Star each of the past three seasons. His only real competition for the starting job is Adrian Gonzalez, with Paul Goldschmidt a possible candidate as well.

Cleveland Indians: C Carlos Santana

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    Since breaking into the league back in 2010, catcher Carlos Santana has shown the potential to be a star with the bat, but he has never quite put it together for a full season.

    The 27-year-old may finally be doing that this season, as he's hitting .355 with a 1.095 OPS, six home runs and 14 RBI so far this season.

    Newcomers Mark Reynolds (.291 BA, 10 HR) and Michael Bourn (.333 BA, .975 OPS) are also having good seasons at the plate, and ace Justin Masterson has been good for the most part, but Santana seems like the best bet.

Colorado Rockies: SS Troy Tulowitzki

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 2

    After averaging a line of .304 BA/30 HR/97 RBI from 2009-2011, there was little debate as to who the best shortstop in baseball was entering last season, with Troy Tulowitzki just entering the prime of his career.

    Instead of another huge season, though, he was limited to just 47 games by a nagging groin injury. But he is back healthy this season. That has led to big numbers once again, as he is hitting .348 with seven home runs and 28 RBI. 

    That should be enough for him to be the runaway starter over the likes of Starlin Castro, Ian Desmond and Jean Segura in the National League.

Detroit Tigers: 3B Miguel Cabrera

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 7

    Really, you can take your pick here. Ace Justin Verlander and first baseman Prince Fielder are both safe bets to be participants in the Midsummer Classic. But we'll go with the reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera.

    He currently leads all of baseball with a .385 average and 36 RBI. He has to be considered the top hitter in the game, and he has a chance to be one of the greatest of all time.

    Evan Longoria and Manny Machado are both having strong seasons, but he should be the runaway starter at third base for the AL this season.

Houston Astros: 2B Jose Altuve

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    There's not much reason for excitement in Houston these days, as the rebuilding Astros have opened the season an MLB-worst 9-24 and have their work cut out for them to avoid having the worst record in baseball this season. 

    One bright spot has been the continued strong play of Jose Altuve atop the lineup, as he is currently hitting .338/.384/.459 with a team-high 17 RBI.

    Second base in the American League is a crowded position, but he is far and away the most deserving candidate on the Astros roster, so expect him to be their lone representative once again.

Kansas City Royals: SP James Shields

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    Looking to make the move from rebuilding franchise to legitimate contender, the Royals set out to improve their rotation this offseason, and they landed the ace they have been lacking when they dealt for James Shields.

    Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie have been great as well, and they actually have better numbers at this point than Shields, but he is the best bet to keep performing at a high level.

    Outfielder Alex Gordon and DH Billy Butler both have a decent chance of earning an All-Star nod as well, but they will need to step up their production to stand out from a deep crowd of players vying for bench spots.

Los Angeles Angels: LF Mike Trout

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    After turning in perhaps the best rookie season in MLB history last year, Mike Trout has been something of a disappointment so far in 2013, hitting .274/.342/.504 with five home runs and five steals.

    That said, he has already become one of the faces of the MLB and is a huge fan favorite after his incredible performance last season, so seeing him win a starting spot via the fan vote would not be at all surprising.

    Teammates Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are both capable of going on an offensive tear and turning their seasons around between now and the break, but for now, Trout seems like a solid bet to make his second trip to the All-Star game.

Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Clayton Kershaw

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 2

    The best pitcher in the National League, and certainly in the discussion with Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez for best pitcher in all of baseball, left-hander Clayton Kershaw is having a phenomenal season once again this year.

    The 25-year-old is currently 3-2 with a 1.66 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 48.2 innings of work. Barring injury, there is no reason to think he won't be an All-Star every season for the next decade.

    As for the rest of the Dodgers' collection of stars, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford are both having good seasons and have a decent chance of being All-Stars as well.

Miami Marlins: SP Kevin Slowey

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    Someone has to represent the lowly Marlins. Most people thought that someone would be slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. However, injuries have limited his production in the early going, and, as of now, it does not look like he'll have the numbers to justify an All-Star trip.

    Instead, non-roster invitee Kevin Slowey has been the best player on the Marlins roster so far, not only earning himself a rotation spot, but thriving.

    He's gone just 1-2, but has a 1.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP through his first seven starts. And while it is unlikely he'll keep pitching this well until July, he has as good a chance as anyone on the roster of making it right now.

Milwaukee Brewers: LF Ryan Braun

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 5

    Since breaking into the league back in 2007, Ryan Braun has been one of the most dynamic all-around offensive players in baseball, and he has only gotten better over the years.

    Last season, he hit a career-high 41 home runs and put together his second straight 30/30 season in the process. And, at 29 years old, he should have at least a few more seasons like that in him.

    Shortstop Jean Segura and center fielder Carlos Gomez are both having fantastic years, but there are few safer bets to be an All-Star at this point than Braun.

Minnesota Twins: C Joe Mauer

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 5

    After playing in just 82 games in 2011 due to injury, many were quick to label that as the beginning of the end for Joe Mauer. But he bounced back last season to lead the AL with a .416 OBP, a .319 average, 10 home runs and 85 RBI.

    He may never again approach 20 home runs, but there is no question Mauer remains one of the most talented offensive catchers not only in the game today but of all time.

    The Twins are short on All-Star-caliber players at this point, and the only other player who has a real chance is outfielder Josh Willingham. But Mauer seems like the better bet at this point in the season.

New York Mets: SP Matt Harvey

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    I originally had third baseman David Wright as the choice here—and if he keeps hitting like he has, there's no reason to think he won't be an All-Star—but there is no ignoring what Matt Harvey has done this year.

    The 24-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA on the year, and he's allowed just 22 hits in 49.1 innings of work while striking out 58.

    At this point in the season, he's not only a sure-fire All-Star, he's also the favorite to win NL Cy Young. It's hard to imagine he keeps pitching at such a high level all season, but at the same time, it would not be at all surprising given how good his stuff is.

New York Yankees: 2B Robinson Cano

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 4

    One of the top offensive second basemen in the game since he first broke into the league, Robinson Cano has taken on a much bigger role in the Yankees offense over the past few seasons as the rest of the team's superstar core has aged.

    He hit a career-high 33 home runs last season while batting over .300 for the fourth straight season, and after leading the Dominican Republic offense in the World Baseball Classic, he is off to a nice start this year.

    Seeing the Yankees with only one All-Star representative would be weird, but there is as good a chance of it happening this season as any, and Cano would be that lone guy.

Oakland Athletics: LF Yoenis Cespedes

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    The success over the last season-plus has come as a result of the team as a whole rather than the performance of a handful of superstar players.

    One player who could step forward as a driving force is Yoenis Cespedes, who made the transition from Cuban League to MLB look like a cakewalk as a rookie last season.

    He's hitting just .244 with six home runs right now, but he has a .289/.356/.605 line with three home runs and 11 RBI in nine games since coming off the DL. And once he gets hot, he is capable of carrying a team offensively.

Philadelphia Phillies: RP Jonathan Papelbon

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 5

    After signing a huge four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies last offseason, Jonathan Papelbon showed why he is one of the premier closers in the game with 38 saves, 11.8 K/9 and a 2.44 ERA last season.

    With an aging core of superstars and a struggling staff ace in Cole Hamels, the Phillies' list of All-Star hopefuls is far shorter than it has been in years past.

    That said, after Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, there may be no better closer in the National League than Papelbon—though Jason Grilli could give all of them a run for their money if he keeps his play up.

Pittsburgh Pirates: RP Jason Grilli

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    The No. 4 pick in the 1997 draft, Jason Grilli was all but written off as a complete bust when the journeyman reliever had a 4.74 ERA in 238 appearances heading into the 2010 season.

    A severe knee injury caused him to miss the entire 2010 season, but he returned a different pitcher, as he's been one of the best setup men in baseball the past two seasons. With Joel Hanrahan gone, Grilli has taken over as closer. He is 13-for-13 on save chances with a 0.64 ERA and 14.8 K/9 so far this year.

    Outfielder Andrew McCutchen still has a chance to make it if he turns things around, and left fielder Starling Marte has been phenomenal in his first full big league season, but Grilli seems like the most obvious choice at this point.

San Diego Padres: RP Luke Gregerson

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    Setup men making the All-Star team has become more and more commonplace over the past few years, and there are few better than right-hander Luke Gregerson. In 306 big league appearances, he has a 2.82 ERA with 9.1 K/9.

    With closer Huston Street putting up less-than-stellar numbers and the starting rotation lacking anything even remotely resembling an ace, Gregerson is the team's best pitcher at this point.

    In the lineup, first baseman Yonder Alonso has been solid, but he also plays at a deep position. Meanwhile, Chase Headley has been slow to get going after opening the season on the DL. There is still a good chance Headley gets going and winds up being the choice, but for now, my pick is Gregerson.

San Francisco Giants: C Buster Posey

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    The reigning NL MVP and batting title winner, Buster Posey has emerged as the best offensive catcher in the game. He is asked to do as much as anyone in the game as far as shouldering the offensive load.

    The hallmark of the Giants' success over the past few seasons has been their pitching, but so far this season, they have struggled with consistency in the rotation.

    Madison Bumgarner has been fantastic and has a great chance of making it to the All-Star game, while closer Sergio Romo currently leads all of baseball in saves and has a chance to be an All-Star as well. But Posey is a good bet to be there for the next several years.

Seattle Mariners: SP Felix Hernandez

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 3

    Though the Mariners took steps to improve their dismal offense this offseason with the additions of Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, they remain an unimpressive bunch at the plate.

    On the pitching side of things, the one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma has been as good as any in baseball, and both pitchers deserve to be All-Stars if they keep it up.

    Iwakuma has the better numbers right now, but Hernandez is the proven commodity, and if there is only one Mariners player that gets an All-Star nod, it will be him.

St. Louis Cardinals: C Yadier Molina

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 4

    Long regarded as the best defensive catcher in baseball, Yadier Molina took his game to another level last season with a breakout year at the plate.

    The Cardinals as a team have a number of players worthy of All-Star consideration, with Matt Holliday and Allen Craig options in the lineup and starter Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller all pitching well in the rotation.

    However, at this point, it seems to be more of a question of whether or not Molina can beat out Buster Posey for the starting spot on the NL team as opposed to whether or not he will make the roster.

Tampa Bay Rays: 3B Evan Longoria

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 3

    After making the All-Star team each of his first three seasons in the league, Evan Longoria has failed to get the nod each of the past two seasons.

    Last year, he was limited to just 74 games due to injury, but he has come back strong this year and is currently hitting .306 with seven home runs and 19 RBI.

    Starter Matt Moore is 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA, and if he keeps pitching like he has, there is no reason he won't be an All-Star. But the only thing that will keep Longoria from being there at this point is an injury.

Texas Rangers: SP Yu Darvish

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    The Rangers offense took a major hit this past offseason when it lost Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young. But the team's pitching staff has picked up the slack this season, as the Rangers remain among the best teams in the American League.

    At the front of that staff is Yu Darvish, who had a solid rookie season last year but has taken his game to another level in 2013.

    He's currently 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 45.2 innings of work, as he has risen to the ranks of the game's elite over the first month. The Rangers will likely have a few All-Stars this year, but the only sure-fire bet at this point is Darvish.

Toronto Blue Jays: RP Casey Janssen

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 0

    Entering the season, most people expected the Blue Jays to be among the league's top teams and for them to fill up the American League All-Star roster come July. But that has not been the case so far.

    The only standout offensively was Jose Reyes, and he is on the disabled list with an ankle injury.

    Meanwhile, the starting rotation that was supposed to be a strength has been perhaps the team's biggest weakness.

    With that, closer Casey Janssen seems to be the best choice for an All-Star representative at this point. He is 9-for-9 on save chances with a 0.75 ERA. Don't sleep on Jose Bautista getting hot and earning a spot, though.

Washington Nationals: LF Bryce Harper

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    Previous All-Star Appearances: 1

    Though not nearly on the level of the Blue Jays and Angels, the Nationals have been something of a disappointment so far this season, as they were picked by many to steamroll the rest of the National League this season.

    Their pitching has not been nearly as dominant as expected, and the duo of Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman in the middle of the lineup have provided little in the way of run production.

    One player who is putting up numbers in Bryce Harper. The budding superstar is hitting .312 with nine home runs and 18 RBI for a 1.033 OPS. This will likely be the second in a long line of All-Star trips for the 20-year-old Harper.