Selecting the NL West's First-Quarter All-Star Team
The NL West has some tremendous talent and was slated to be one of, if not, the most competitive divisions in baseball, after the San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three years and the Los Angeles Dodgers have bought the talent to match.
However, now that the 2013 MLB season is nearly a quarter of the way through, which players would make an all-NL West All-Star team? Who has surprised and who has disappointed?
Some of these players may surprise you, and for once I’m excited to see the arguing comments.
C. Buster Posey
This was probably the closest competition as the Rockies’ Wilin Rosario has been having a fantasy breakout season. Both players have excellent batting statistic, excelling in different areas.
Player A: 17 runs, 5 home runs, 25 RBI, 0 steals, and .391 OBP
Player B: 15 runs, 7 home runs, 19 RBI, 3 steals, and .302 OBP
Like I said, pretty comparable hitting statistics. Player A is Posey, while B is Rosario. However, the deciding factor I decided to go with is WAR, a great judgment of a players’ overall value. Although Rosario has an impressive 0.8, Posey’s WAR is an astounding 1.6. His value ranks him tied with Robinson Cano for 25th in the MLB.
1B. Paul Goldschmidt
Although often unheralded, the young Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt is having an MVP-caliber season. In only his second full season in the MLB, Goldschmidt already has 10 home runs, 31 RBI, while raking with a .322 batting average.
His 2.2 WAR is tied for fifth in the MLB. Expect big things from this young slugger for the remainder of the 2013 season, and for many seasons in the future. Goldschmidt’s efforts have helped the Diamondbacks become one of the surprise stories of the 2013 season and the team is only one game behind the rival Giants.
2B. Josh Rutledge
Despite being a Padre fan and wanting desperately to get Jedd Gyorko in the list, there’s no denying how Josh Rutledge has performed so far this season. Despite second base being a fairly weak position, especially in the NL West, Rutledge has batted himself ahead of the pack with 25 runs, 5 home runs, and 5 stolen bases.
Though his defense won’t turn many heads, and his contribution to team isn’t evident in his 0.0 WAR, Rutledge remains a solid player in the middle infield.
3B. Pablo Sandoval
Pablo Sandoval is having another terrific season. Hitting in the heart of the Giants’ lineup, the Kung Fu Panda has seven home runs, 30 RBI, and 22 runs while maintaining a .322 batting average. If you’re a Giants fan, or having Sandoval on your fantasy team, his hitting comes as no surprise. His health has always remained a question, however.
If Sandoval can play 145+ games this season, he may battle teammate Posey in the NL MVP race.
SS. Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzki, like Sandoval, comes as no surprise as an offensive powerhouse who can’t seem to stay healthy for an entire year. If he does, Tulowitzki is not only the best shortstop in the NL West, or even MLB, but he ranks among the league’s top players.
Tulowitzki is not your prototypical shortstop – lean and quick – however he can still cover ground like the best of them and has above-average power (albeit aided by Coors Field). Unsurprisingly, Tulowitzki ranks 11th in WAR so far this year.
OF. Carlos Gonzalez, Hunter Pence, Carl Crawford
Carlos Gonzalez is the obvious star of this outfield. He remains as one of the few five-tool players in the league. Although his home-away splits are drastic, they average out to an excellent ballplayer
So far this year CarGo has 31 runs, nine home runs, 22 RBI, a .306 batting average, and has swiped five bases.
Also rounding off the rest of the outfield are Hunter Pence and Carl Crawford. Neither names should come as that much of a shock, however, Crawford has pleasantly surprised many after failing to meet expectations the last few seasons. He seems to be one of the few Dodgers’ earning their contract this year.
SP. Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Patrick Corbin
What else is there to say about Clayton Kershaw? He has solidified himself as one of the most dominant arms in the game and is still only 25 years old. Despite the Dodgers holding down the bottom of the NL West standings, Kershaw remains a lone star among the team.
In nine starts so far in 2013, Kershaw has four wins and an astounding 1.40 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. Even more impressive is his 9.4 K/9 which puts him on pace for well over 200 strikeouts on the year. The 2013 Cy Young race is building up to be a fantastic competition with other young hurlers, Matt Harvey and Jordan Zimmerman going toe-to-toe with Kershaw as well.
Finishing off the 3-man rotation will be Madison Bumgarner and rookie Patrick Corbin. Notably missing from this list are Matt Cain, Zack Greinke (injured), and Tim Lincecum who have not performed up to their expectations so far this year.
RP. Sergio Romo and Rafael Betancourt
The relief pitchers section of this list was probably the easiest to decide. Given the unstable bullpen of the Diamondbacks, the unfounded vote of confidence for Brandon League, and Huston Street’s shaky start, both Sergio Romo and Rafael Betancourt are leading the pack for the closers.
Romo already has 12 saves, however, Betancourt has four wins, four saves, and a 1.10 ERA.
I’d also like to give out quarter-season awards for the NL West
MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
Runner Up: Carlos Gonzalez
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
Runner Up: Patrick Corbin
Rookie of the Year: Patrick Corbin
Runner Up: Jedd Gyorko
Agree, disagree, or just want to chat? Let’s hear it in the comments.
All statistics taken from Baseball-Reference.com