2013 MLB All-Star Game: Picks for the Game Thus Far
Well, we are almost 50 games into the 2013 MLB campaign. Some superstars are putting up big numbers, while others (Matt Kemp and R.A. Dickey) have spent the past six weeks crashing and burning.
Since we are now halfway to the Midsummer Classic, I reckon it's time for me to roll out my picks for all 68 roster spots.
I have allocated the All-Star roster as follows: Each team has 21 batters and 13 pitchers. These allocations are roughly in line with allocations of recent All-Star game rosters:
- Starting batters at each of the nine positions, with DH substituting for pitcher in both leagues (note that DH is a rule at all All-Star Games, regardless of the league hosting).
- Reserves at each of those nine positions.
- A third catcher and two additional batters, one of whom is the "34th man," who will be selected by fans in the weeks prior to the Midsummer Classic.
- Eight starting pitchers.
- Five relievers, including at least one lefty and at least one middle reliever.
- All 15 National League and all 15 American League clubs are guaranteed at least one slot.
AL Miscellaneous Batters
34th man: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
This would've been Ian Kinsler's slot if he was still healthy. Machado is leading all AL third basemen in WAR and all AL fielders in defensive war. He also has a solid triple slash of .328/.362/.527, leads the AL in doubles, and is third in total bases.
33rd man: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Altuve is the only bright spot on a 12-32 Astros squad. Altuve is second among AL second basemen in both WAR (2.0) and batting average (3.3). He's also turned the most double plays in the AL.
Backup DH: Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers
Berkman is one of only two DHs to be hitting .300 on the season, and he's leading all DHs in hits. Fat Elvis is also second among DHs in WAR.
Starting DH: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Despite having about 50 fewer at-bats than most other DHs, David Ortiz is leading them in WAR, being the only DH with WAR above 1.0. He leads all DHs in total bases and extra-base hits.
Ortiz has a lights-out triple slash of .364/.407/.667, good enough for an OPS of 1.074. He's also gone yard seven times and driven in 29.
NL Miscellaneous Batters
34th man: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
Phillips is second in the NL in RBI with 36. He also leads all NL second basemen with 80 total bases and seven homers.
33rd man: Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
A few years ago, somebody put Omar Infante and Martin Prado on the All-Star team, primarily due to positional eligibility. Scutaro offers some of the same flexibility, but with one major upside: He's also fourth in the league in hits and has a triple slash of .331/.375/.436.
Backup DH: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates
Marte is 8th in the NL in WAR with 2.3, and is one of three players with an OPS over .800 and double-digit stolen bases. He's in the top five in the NL in both runs and hits on a triple slash of .305/.372/.463.
Starting DH: Joey Votto, Reds
Votto is leading all NL first basemen in batting average, and is second in the NL in OPS. He's also in the top ten in the NL in a host of other categories, including WAR, hits, doubles, batting average and walks.
Closer No. 1: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Look for this to be Mariano's last ninth inning in the All-Star Game. Rivera is leading all AL closers in saves, having converted all 16 of his save opportunities this season.
Closer No. 2: Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners
Wilhelmsen is leading all AL closers in ERA with a shockingly-low 0.50 (best among any righty in the league), to go along with a WHIP of 0.61. He also leads all AL closers in WAR with 1.1, and is one of six AL closers to have notched double-digit saves.
Closer No. 3: Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays
Janssen is one of six AL closers with double-digit saves, and one of only two AL closers with a WAR of 1.0 or better. Janssen has allowed just four hits and one earned run in 13 innings of work, for a 0.31 WHIP and a 0.69 ERA.
Lefty Reliever: Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
There are a few distinctions about Perkins. He is leading all MLB lefties in saves. He is one of only three AL lefty relievers with 14 or more strikeouts per nine innings, and is the only one of those three with a sub-1.00 WHIP.
Middle Reliever: Tanner Scheppers, Rangers
One again, the Rangers are getting it done in middle relief. Among AL righties with 15 or more innings, Scheppers is third in ERA at 0.79, with a WHIP of 0.79 as well. Due to eight holds and three wins in relief, he is one of a handful of middle relievers with a WAR better than 1.0.
Closer No. 1: Jason Grilli, Pirates
Last season, Jason Grilli was one of baseball's best setup men. Now he's one of baseball's best closers.
Grilli is leading the majors in saves with 17, and this on a 0.92 ERA that is the fourth-best among players with 15 or more frames. Grilli is averaging an astonishing 14.2 strikeouts per nine, and an equally good 7.7 strikeouts per walk during the best campaign of his career.
Closer No. 2: Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals
Closer No. 3: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
Kimbrel is second in the NL in saves with 14. He also is averaging 14 strikeouts per nine innings, and has a sub-1.00 WHIP.
Lefty Reliever: James Russell, Chicago Cubs
James Russell has one of the best ERAs (0.52) and OPS-conceded marks (.477) among lefty relievers with 15 or more frames under their belt. In 17.1 innings, he's recorded 19 strikeouts with seven holds and a win in relief.
Middle Reliever: Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres
Gregerson is the only Padre who is anywhere near the top of a positional ranking. He is second in WHIP among pitchers with 15 or more innings. He adds to that a respectable 1.00 ERA, nine holds and two wins in relief.
Starting Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins
Mauer is once again leading all backstops in batting average, and is in the top ten in the AL in OPS. He leads all AL backstops in WAR by a considerable margin, due to, among other things, being second among AL catchers in double plays turned and players caught stealing.
Backup Catcher: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Santana leads all AL backstops in OPS at .963, a number good enough for fourth in the league. Though Santana is second in the majors in offensive WAR, his poor showing on defense puts him second among AL catchers in total WAR behind Mauer.
Third Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez is second among AL catchers in batting average with .307, and tied for third in WAR with 0.8. He's also second among AL catchers in hits behind Mauer.
Starting Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants
The reigning NL MVP is again leading all NL backstops in a bunch of categories, including OPS (.918), OBP (.396), total bases (70) and doubles (11). He also has the seventh-best offensive WAR in the league.
Backup Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Molina is the only NL catcher to be hitting better than .300 on the season, good enough for fifth in the league.
Third Catcher: John Buck, New York Mets
The hometown catcher is leading all NL backstops in homers (10) and RBI (31). Both of those numbers are good enough for top five in the NL.
AL Middle Infielders
Starting Second Baseman: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Pedroia is leading all AL second basemen in WAR with 2.7 (better than any non-pitcher in the AL) and in batting average at .343 (good enough for third in the AL). Pedroia has scored 32 times, stolen eight bases and has yet to commit an error at second base.
Backup Second Baseman: Robinson Cano, Yankees
Cano is leading all AL second baseman in OPS at .899, and in homers with a dozen. He also has one of the ten-best slugging percentages in the AL, and is second in the AL in total bases.
Starting Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
Peralta is the only AL shortstop hitting over .300 this season, and is second among all AL shortstops in WAR with 1.5.
Backup Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Andrus has a slight edge over Peralta in WAR, but has a much worse triple slash of .282/.330/.348. Andrus leads all shortstops in hits with 51, and is also third in the league in stolen bases with 12.
NL Middle Infielders
Starting Second Baseman: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
Carpenter leads all NL second baseman in WAR with 1.9, and in OPS at .818. He's also second in the NL in runs, third in doubles and has turned five double plays this season.
Backup Second Baseman: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley leads all second baseman in homers with seven, and is a close second to Carpenter in OPS. He also is the only Phillies batter with a WAR above 1.0, and is one of two NL second basemen with 25 or more runs driven in.
Starting Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Tulo leads NL shortstops in a number of power-related categories, including OPS (.996, sixth in the NL), slugging (.590, 4th in the NL) and homers (eight, 10th in the NL). He also leads the NL in RBI with 37.
Backup Shortstop: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
Segura has more total bases (94) than any NL shortstop, a better batting average (.364) than any NL shortstop, and a better WAR (2.6) than any NL shortstop. He's also stolen 14 bags.
AL Starting Pitchers, 2-8
Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Moore is 8-0. Nuff said.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
The starting gig was King Felix's to lose, and he lost it with a poor performance (six runs allowed in six innings) in his last outing, combined with back problems. Hernandez is in the top five among AL starters in a number of categories, including ERA, strikeouts and pitcher's WAR.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
Iwakuma (5-1) is second among AL starters in ERA at 1.84, and leads them in WHIP at 0.78. He's also 4th in the AL in pitcher's WAR, leads all AL starters in OPS allowed and is second among AL starters in strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees
Kuroda (6-2) is third among AL starters in ERA at 1.99, fourth in WHIP at 0.95 and second in OPS allowed at .546.
Justin Masterson, Indians
Masterson has seven victories this season, two of them shutouts. He's also third in the league in strikeouts with 71, and has faced (and retired) more batters than any other pitcher thus far.
Yu Darvish, Rangers
Darvish is one of three pitchers with seven victories, and is leading the league in both strikeouts and hits allowed per nine innings.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Sale is one of five AL pitchers with eight quality starts. He is second in the league in both pitcher's WAR and WHIP.
NL Starting Pitchers, 2-8
Matt Harvey, Mets
With 3.1, Harvey (5-0) has the second-best WAR in baseball, and adds to that the best WHIP (0.72). He allows a staggeringly-low OPS of .417, and is second in the NL in strikeouts with 68.
Shelby Miller, Cardinals
Miller (5-2) is second in the NL in ERA at 1.40 and fourth in WHIP at 0.88. He is in the top eight in the National League in a number of statistical categories, including wins, strikeouts, WAR and OPS allowed.
Jordan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Zimmerman is the only man in the National League with seven victories to his name, and has thrown more complete games (3) than any other pitcher in the Senior Circuit. He's also second in the NL in WHIP with 0.87 and fifth in the NL in ERA at 1.62.
A.J. Burnett, Pirates
Burnett (3-4) is leading the NL in strikeouts with 79, and is one of 11 pitchers with seven or more quality starts. He's also 10th in the NL in ERA and sixth in OPS allowed (.572).
Travis Wood, Cubs
Travis Wood (4-2) is the only man in the majors with nine quality starts. He is fifth in the NL in WAR, and also fifth in WHIP (0.92) and OPS allowed (.534)
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
Corbin is sixth in the NL in WAR, third in ERA (1.52) and seventh in OPS allowed (.593). He is one of five players with eight quality starts, and has six victories against no defeats.
Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins
Nolasco has more victories (three) and more quality starts (five) than anybody on the Marlins.
AL at the Corners
Starting Third Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
The reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner is again having a monster year. Cabrera is leading the AL in batting average (.387), OBP (.457), OPS (1.116), runs (34), hits (67), total bases (114) and RBI (47).
There are also a number of other categories where he leads all AL third basemen.
Backup Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson, Oakland A's
Donaldson leads all A's in WAR with 1.8, and is third among AL third basemen in OPS with .919. He is the only Athletic to be hitting over .300, and leads the A's in RBI, hits and total bases.
Starting First Baseman: Chris Davis, Orioles
Davis is the only AL first baseman with an OPS over 1.000 or a WAR over 1.5. Davis is tied for the league lead in homers with 12 on a triple slash of .313/.406/.660. He leads the league in extra base hits, slugging percentage and double plays finished.
Backup First Baseman: James Loney, Rays
Loney is second in the AL in batting average at .356, best among first basemen. He's also sixth in AL in OPS at .926.
NL at the Corners
Starting Third Baseman: David Wright, Mets
The hometown third baseman is leading all NL third basemen in WAR by a substantial margin, and also has the lead in OPS at .944. His .416 OBP is the third-best in the majors, and he also has three triples and 10 stolen bases.
Backup Third Baseman: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Panda is leading all NL third basemen in total bags with 80, and has the second-best batting average among NL third basemen at .302. He's also hit six dingers, and is fourth in the league in RBI with 32.
Starting First Baseman: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
The second-year first baseman is leading the National League in both OPS (1.049) and slugging percentage (.635). He is the only man in the NL with 100 total bases. He also leads all NL first basemen in home runs, put outs and WAR, and is one of only three men in the NL with 35 or more RBI this year.
Backup First Baseman: Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers
A-Gon is ninth in the NL in batting average at .331, good enough for third among NL first basemen behind Goldschmidt and Votto. He's also eighth in the NL in RBI with 29.
Starting Outfielder: Alex Rios, White Sox
Alex Rios has the best OPS (.921) of any AL outfielder, and is tied for the lead in WAR with 1.6. Rios is also in the top 10 in the league in homers and total bases, and has stolen seven bags.
Starting Outfielder: Alex Gordon, Royals
Alex Gordon has the best batting average (.343) of any AL outfielder, and is tied for the lead in WAR with 1.6. Gordon is also in the top 10 in the league in slugging percentage, triples and runs scored.
Starting Outfielder: Adam Jones, Orioles
Jones is fifth in the league in hits behind a .322/.358/..500 triple slash. He leads all AL outfielders in doubles and is second among AL outfielders in RBI.
Backup Outfielder: Daniel Nava, Red Sox
Nava is third among AL outfielders in OPS at .896, seventh among them in batting average and leads all AL outfielders in on-base percentage.
Backup Outfielder: Vernon Wells, Yankees
Vernon Wells is one of only four AL outfielders with double-digits in the home runs column. He is second on the division-leading Yankees in WAR.
Backup Outfielder: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is fifth among AL outfielders in WAR, leading the Halos in that stat. At present, he's carrying a triple slash of .278/.363/.517. Trout is in the top 10 in the AL in a number of categories, including runs, doubles, triples, walks and stolen bases.
Starting Outfielder: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Last year's NL Rookie of the Year, Harper has been making a case for MVP honors this season. He has 11 dingers on the season, and is second in the league in both slugging (.617) and OPS (1.011).
Starting Outfielder: Justin Upton, Braves
Upton is leading the league in dingers with 14, and is the top five in the NL in a number of categories, including OPS (.997, fifth), walks (29, third), total bases (93, third) and offensive WAR (2.1, fifth).
Starting Outfielder: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
At 2.5, Gomez's WAR is the second-best mark among NL outfielders. He boasts a triple slash of .336/.380/.566, good enough for fourth in batting average among NL players, and sixth in OPS among NL outfielders. Gomez has also stolen nine bases and notched three triples.
Backup Outfielder: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds
Choo is one of three NL players with an OPS over 1.000, thanks mostly to his .456 OBP that is second in the majors. Choo has created more runs (46) than anyone else in the NL, is second in walks, fifth in total bases and eighth in dingers.
Backup Outfielder: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
CarGo is one of four NL players with double-digit homers, and is leading all NL players in runs scored with 36. Gonzalez is second in extra-base hits and fourth in total bases, while boasting a .308/.401/.579 triple slash that is good enough for a .980 OPS
Backup Outfielder: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Braun has the fifth-best OPS among NL outfielders at .969, behind a triple slash of .317/.404/.566. Braun is in the top 10 in the NL in a number of categories, including OBP, slugging percentage and RBI.
AL Ace: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
Per ESPN's WAR stats, Clay Buchholz is leading all AL pitchers in WAR with 3.0. He's also leading AL starters in ERA at 1.78, is seventh in strikeouts per nine and has notched a league-best eight quality starts without suffering a single defeat.
NL Ace: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Yeah, I know some have been taking the homer pick of Harvey, but the fact is that Clayton Kershaw is the best NL pitcher this season. Kershaw (4-2) has seven quality starts, and is leading NL starters in both ERA (1.40) and WAR (3.1).
He's also third in the league in both strikeouts (67) and WHIP (0.87).