Would someone else take the hill for the National League at the three-quarter All-Star Game?
The official 2013 MLB All-Star Game is done and gone. But now that the season is at the three-quarter mark, it’s worth examining who would make the All-Star Game if it were to be held now.
For the most part, the starters would stay the same. After all, it would be unusual if the game’s top players from just a few months ago tanked all of a sudden.
But even within the pool of great present day players, some were undeniably snubbed or sat on the bench as non-starters during the All-Star Game festivities.
Below is a list of both league’s revised All-Star teams at the three-quarter mark of the 2013 season.
Greg Holland has barely been hittable in 2013.
American League – Greg Holland
Greg Holland has arguably been the best reliever in baseball this season. The Kansas City Royals’ closer has notched a 1.53 ERA (versus park-adjusted 268 ERA+), 0.89 WHIP, 6.25 K/BB and 32 saves. Holland did make the All-Star team, but his inclusion was perhaps overshadowed by Mariano Rivera’s final appearance.
National League – Jason Grilli
Jason Grilli is most likely missing the rest of the season due to injury, but that doesn’t mean the 2013 All-Star isn’t deserving of this honorable mention. Grilli posted a 2.34 ERA (versus 152 ERA+), 0.92 WHIP, 6.60 K/BB and 30 saves this season. Even though Mark Melancon has since taken over the closing duties for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Grilli is a big reason why the team is where they are right now.
Yadier Molina is vital to the St. Louis Cardinals' success.
American League – Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer made his sixth All-Star appearance this year. The Minnesota Twins’ catcher was deserving, too, as he has posted a .321 batting average, a park-adjusted 140 OPS+ and 10 home runs. As if his offensive contribution wasn't sufficient, Mauer has also gloved a career-best 1.0 dWAR to boot.
National League – Yadier Molina
Fortunately for the St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina is back off the disabled list. Even though Molina might not beat out other sluggers for the MVP Award, make no qualms about it: Yadier Molina is one of the most valuable players in baseball. The 2013 All-Star has posted a .330 batting average, a 136 OPS+ and eight home runs for the Cardinals. The 31-year-old is also gloving a 1.3 dWAR.
Chris Davis hasn't quite kept up with his earlier season pace, but he's still been an elite slugger.
American League – Chris Davis
Chris Davis has slowed down a bit (.232 batting average and .880 OPS since July), but on the whole, the first baseman deserves to retain his starting All-Star spot. Davis has still sported a .300 batting average, a park-adjusted 179 OPS+ and a league-leading 44 home runs to this point. Without his elite season, the Baltimore Orioles would not be in the playoff race.
National League – Paul Goldschmidt
It’s tough to pick anyone over Joey Votto, but perhaps Paul Goldschmidt has been a smidge better overall. Goldschmidt leads the National League in home runs (29), RBI (93) and park-adjusted OPS+ (156). The first baseman has also played better defense than Votto, gloving a 0.3 dWAR for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Matt Carpenter has been the best overall second baseman in the National League.
American League – Robinson Cano
Jason Kipnis has crept up on Robinson Cano, but the New York Yankees’ second baseman is still the All-Star worthy option. Cano has posted a .297 batting average, a park-adjusted 140 OPS+ and 22 home runs over 510 plate appearances. The impending free agent will be a rare and expensive commodity on the open market this offseason.
National League – Matt Carpenter
Brandon Phillips might have a ton of RBI (90), but across the board, he pales in comparison to Matt Carpenter. Carpenter has posted a .310 batting average, a 9.1 percent walk rate, a park-adjusted 136 OPS+ and a league-leading 39 doubles. The St. Louis Cardinals' second baseman has even matched Phillips’ Gold Glove-caliber defense, gloving a 0.4 dWAR (versus Phillips’ 0.6 dWAR).
J.J. Hardy combines great power with an even better glove.
American League – J.J. Hardy
Many people would like to hand Jose Reyes the starting All-Star slot at shortstop, but J.J. Hardy’s overall play trumps Reyes’ production. In addition to swatting 22 home runs and sporting a park-adjusted 99 OPS+, Hardy has also posted a Gold Glove worthy 1.8 dWAR. By comparison, Reyes has only posted a .777 OPS since returning from injury and a minus-0.2 dWAR up the middle.
National League – Troy Tulowitzki
Between Ian Desmond and Troy Tulowitzki, Desmond has been the better of the two shortstops since Tulo has returned from the disabled list. In fact, since July 11, Desmond’s OPS has been 133 points higher than Tulowitzki’s. But even though the Colorado Rockies’ cornerstone has essentially been producing at replacement level post-injury, Tulo has still owned a park-adjusted 140 OPS+ in 2013. Desmond has been good, but not that good (123 OPS+ in 2013).
David Wright is the lone hitting star on an otherwise offensively-challenged team.
American League – Miguel Cabrera
Is there anyone more deserving of an All-Star nod than Miguel Cabrera? Cabrera leads the league in batting average (.360), OBP (.453), SLG (.685), OPS (1.138), park-adjusted OPS+ (203), RBI (114), hits (153) and runs (87). He also has 38 home runs, which if not for Chris Davis, would be enough for the league lead, too. Also, as Jonah Keri and Will Cohen of Grantland mentioned, Cabrera’s bat is actually making history.
National League – David Wright
David Wright recently landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury—and might miss the rest of the season with it—but his contributions in 2013 are still deserving of All-Star glory. Wright has posted a .309 batting average, a .391 OBP, a park-adjusted 154 OPS+, 16 home runs and 17 stolen bases. The New York Mets’ captain has also exhibited good defense at the hot corner, owning a 0.7 dWAR at third base.
Mike Trout hasn't let anyone down in his sophomore season.
American League – Mike Trout, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista
Mike Trout might be hard pressed to oust Miguel Cabrera in MVP Award discussions in 2013, but that doesn’t mean the outfielder isn’t enjoying a fantastic season. Trout has posted a .330 batting average, a .425 OBP, a park-adjusted 181 OPS+, 21 home runs and 26 stolen bases.
Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to be on a Trout-esque path in 2011, but injuries have apparently hindered his power. Despite the 78 percent decrease in home runs, Ellsbury has still posted a .299 batting average, a .358 OBP, a 114 OPS+ and a league-leading 44 stolen bases. The Boston Red Sox outfielder also boasts a Gold Glove worthy 1.6 dWAR, too.
Jose Bautista continues to be one of the best stories in the game. The 32-year-old has now been an elite American League hitter for four seasons, despite a previously mediocre career. It doesn’t seem like Bautista can hit 54 home runs again, but there’s little to gripe about over a 133 OPS+ and 27 home runs.
National League – Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez
The Pittsburgh Pirates are likely playoff bound—and it would be the first time since 1992. The Pirates’ fearless leader, Andrew McCutchen, is a giant part of the team’s success. McCutchen has posted a .316 batting average, a 155 OPS+, 17 home runs and 24 stolen bases. He’s also played a Gold Glove-caliber center field, posting a 1.1 dWAR.
Carlos Gonzalez was recently placed on the disabled list with a sprained middle finger, which has been plaguing him for a little while now. Recent injury aside, CarGo has enjoyed his most impressive major league season in 2013. Despite usually being a non-factor on the road (career .774 OPS), Gonzalez has turned that trend on its head in 2013 (.987 OPS). No longer a product of Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies’ stud has emerged as a full-fledged star.
Few people thought Carlos Gomez would repeat his somewhat surprising 2012 power outburst, but to date, the Milwaukee Brewers’ center fielder has gone above and beyond it. Gomez has posted a .288 batting average, a 132 OPS+, 18 home runs and 30 stolen bases. The 27-year-old is also arguably the best defensive outfielder in baseball this season, posting a 3.1 dWAR.
Joey Votto is a walk machine.
American League – David Ortiz
At some point, Edwin Encarnacion will give him a run for his money, but for now, David Ortiz is still the best designated hitter in the American League. At age 37, Ortiz has posted a .324 batting average, a .405 OBP, a park-adjusted 165 OPS+ and 23 home runs. His ninth All-Star appearance in 2013 was well earned.
National League – Joey Votto
The National League obviously does not use a designated hitter during the regular season, but for the All-Star game, they’re unfortunately forced to do so. In this case, Joey Votto would be the man for the job. Votto is leading the league in OBP for the fourth straight season, and he even has a 156 OPS+ to boot. Given the equally good play of Paul Goldschmidt, now Michael Cuddyer, who was the National League’s DH in the All-Star Game, becomes the casualty.
Is Matt Harvey the best pitcher in baseball?
American League – Felix Hernandez
It’s essentially a toss up between Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez for this spot. Both Scherzer and King Felix have been dominant, posting a 2.85 ERA and 2.28 ERA, respectively. But perhaps Felix has been slightly better, as the pitcher’s 2.49 FIP suggests (Scherzer has a 2.70 FIP). It’s hard to not re-tap Scherzer, who has won 17 games, but “personal wins” aside, Felix has actually been the better pitcher.
National League – Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey has not only emerged as the best New York Mets’ pitcher, but he has arguably been the best pitcher in all of baseball this season. Harvey’s microscopic 2.02 FIP combined with a 5.83 K/BB makes him about as unhittable as it gets. Considering the 24-year-old’s tremendous work ethic and charisma, the pitcher has a long, successful career ahead of him in the majors. Needless to say, Harvey deserves the ball again at the three-quarter mark.