2014 MLB All-Star Rosters: B/R's Final 34-Man Roster Predictions
The rosters for the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game won't be revealed until Sunday night, so we'll all just have to wait patiently for a few more...
Actually, scratch that. Why wait patiently when we can ponder what the All-Star rosters might look like?
That's what we're here to do, and we're not going to stop simply at who's going to make the final cuts in the voting for the American and National League starters (which ends Thursday night). We're going to take a whack at predicting all 34 players on the final rosters.
This entails the initial reserves chosen by the players and All-Star managers John Farrell and Mike Matheny, which Mark Newman of MLB.com says will amount to 24 for the AL and 25 for the NL. From there, we'll determine who might emerge as the winner of the Final Vote for both leagues.
For the record: No, I don't have any delusions of getting every single roster spot exactly right. But what the heck. YOPASRO, as the kids say these days. You only predict All-Star rosters once.
American League Starters
Going off of the most recent voting for the AL starters, the following nine players should get starting nods at Target Field on July 15:
|Pos||Player||Team||Latest Vote Count||Vote Advantage|
Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Mike Trout aren't going to lose their leads before the voting closes Thursday night. Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Nelson Cruz should also be safe.
That makes seven easy calls and leaves two tricky areas: the final outfield spot and catcher.
Even though he leads Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera by only a handful of votes, I'm thinking Oakland A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes will hang on. With respect to the ballot-stuffing ability of Toronto fans, Cespedes simply has too much momentum.
As the man himself granted to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Cespedes has garnered a ton of attention for a recent string of highlight-reel throws. He's been hot at the plate too, hitting .324 in June and finishing the month on a 14-game hitting streak.
The catcher position is a bigger question mark. Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is leading the voting, but he is out for the year with Tommy John surgery and is losing ground to A's catcher Derek Norris.
Wieters might still end up finishing as the AL's leading vote-getter at catcher, but I'm putting Norris in the starting spot anyway. He's bound to make the team either way and has earned the starting nod by blowing away all other AL catchers (minimum 150 plate appearances) with a .915 OPS in 61 games.
National League Starters
Going off of the most recent ballot, the following eight National Leaguers should earn starting spots for July 15:
|Pos||Player||Team||Latest Vote Count||Vote Advantage|
There are fewer locks in the NL voting than there are in the AL voting, but we can take a wild guess and say that nobody's catching Paul Goldschmidt, Chase Utley or Troy Tulowitzki, and that Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gomez are also probably safe.
Elsewhere, Yadier Molina is probably safe from Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. He's picked up some steam, but I can't imagine St. Louis Cardinals fans letting Molina lose a voting advantage that big in just a few days.
Fortunately for Milwaukee fans, Aramis Ramirez should be in the clear. David Wright has the best shot at taking him down, but the New York Mets captain is having a down year and is now out with an injured shoulder.
That just leaves the National League's outfield, and the three guys who are leading now should be able to hold on. Giancarlo Stanton might be able to catch Yasiel Puig, but nah. The Miami Marlins fanbase probably won't beat the Los Angeles Dodgers fanbase in a ballot box-stuffing competition.
Now then, on to the reserves...
American League Bench
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez was an All-Star last year, and he's having an even better first half in 2014, with a .781 OPS and 10 homers through 74 games. This is in addition to superb defense behind the plate, of course.
Catcher: Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins
After Derek Norris, Suzuki is the only catcher who actually belongs in the top five of the AL voting. He's having a renaissance year with a .304 average in 68 games, leading all AL catchers by plenty.
First Base: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
Abreu woke up Wednesday tied with Nelson Cruz for the AL lead with 26 homers and 67 RBI, all in 11 fewer games played. He's probably the biggest lock to make the AL bench.
First Base: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Two first basemen? Well, with 25 homers and a .962 OPS through 84 games, it's hard to imagine Encarnacion missing the cut. That he can also play third base and left field can't hurt his cause.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Altuve is an easy pick for what will likely be Houston's only All-Star nod. He entered Wednesday leading the AL in hitting at .347 and in stolen bases with 37, as well as leading the majors in hits with 118.
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Ramirez entered Wednesday with eight homers and 14 steals, as well as the top OPS among AL shortstops. A spot on the bench will also be his reward for putting up a good fight against Derek Jeter in the fan vote.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
I'd actually think about giving this spot to Kyle Seager, but Beltre's veteran status should help him with his fellow players and AL manager John Farrell. Oh, and his .332 average should too.
Outfield: Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
The Indians have a couple of All-Star-level players, but Brantley's the most obvious choice of the bunch. He entered Wednesday leading AL outfielders with a .316 average to go with 12 homers and nine steals.
Outfield: Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays
Because he's cooled a bit after a scorching start, I don't have total confidence in Cabrera making it to the AL bench. But he's still hitting a solid .299 in 84 games. His standing in the fan vote can't hurt, and neither can the reality that Farrell has seen the best of his comeback. He's hit .385 against the Red Sox.
Outfield: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
As much as I'd love to see Alex Gordon round out the AL's outfield, Jones likely won't be denied. He has his All-Star reputation, and he's hitting well with a .304 average and 15 homers through 83 games.
Designated Hitter: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
This one's easy. Martinez has been the AL's best true DH this season with a .323 average, 20 homers and only 23 strikeouts (!) through 78 games. He should have no trouble landing on the AL's roster.
National League Bench
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
Lucroy's probably not catching Yadier Molina in the fan vote, but it'll be a travesty if he doesn't make the NL bench. All he's done is hit .331 in 78 games while framing (roughly) a million strikes.
Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
This spot is a tough call, but Posey could be helped by Mike Matheny's apparent willingness, as told to MLB.com, to take the player voting and "match that up with the fan vote" in making his selections. Posey was third behind Molina and Lucroy at last check. Plus, he's having a good year, with a .292 average and nine homers in 75 games, and his ability to play first is a bonus.
First Base: Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies
Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche or Matt Adams could go here, but Morneau is hardly a bold pick. He entered Wednesday ranked second in the NL in RBI with 58, and Matheny could jump at the chance to put Morneau's 2014 comeback on display for his old fanbase in Minnesota.
First Base: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo is undoubtedly the best choice to represent the Cubs in Minnesota. He entered Wednesday ranked third among NL first basemen with an .894 OPS, and he also had 17 homers to his name.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
If the Mets must have one representative, why not Murphy? He entered Wednesday batting .302 and leading the NL in hits with 104. That'll do for an All-Star-worthy season.
Third Base: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
I'm trusting that NL players and Matheny will notice Frazier's outstanding season more easily than the fans have. All he's done in 82 games is post an .857 OPS with 17 homers and 13 steals.
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals
This is another prediction I'm not sure of, as this spot might go to Brandon Crawford, Starlin Castro or Hanley Ramirez. But Peralta is fourth among shortstops in the fan voting, he has a solid .759 OPS and also has the advantage of being one of Matheny's guys.
UTIL: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
In addition to being among the leading vote-getters at second base, Gordon has a .297 average and an MLB-leading 40 stolen bases. He'll fit well as a late pinch-running option, and he also offers versatility in his ability to play second and short.
Outfielder: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Stanton's as big a lock for the NL bench as Lucroy is, as he entered Wednesday leading the NL in homers and RBI while hitting .316 with a 1.005 OPS. Look for him to get the start for the NL at DH.
Outfielder: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Braun should benefit from Matheny's willingness to pay attention to the fan vote, as he's right behind Stanton on the most recent ballot. Beyond that, he's also sixth among NL outfielders in OPS at .848.
Outfielder: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Blackmon's cooled since his hot April start, but he's doing well in the fan vote (right behind Braun) and he still has some good numbers. His .296 average is sixth among NL outfielders, and he also has 12 homers and 15 steals in 82 games.
Outfielder: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
I can see this spot going to Hunter Pence or Billy Hamilton, but Upton's the safe bet. His 16 homers in 78 games tie him for second among NL outfielders, and he's also seventh in OPS at .846.
American League Pitchers
Starting Pitcher: Mark Buehrle, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Yours truly has doubts about the sustainability of Buehrle's hot start, but it's happened all the same. With 10 wins (tied for second among AL starters) and a 2.50 ERA (fourth in AL), he'll be an All-Star.
Starting Pitcher: Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers
Darvish entered Wednesday ranked first in the AL in strikeouts per nine at 11.04 and third in ERA at 2.42. I wouldn't call him a lock, but he should make it.
Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland A's
Kazmir entered Wednesday with a 9-3 record and the fifth-best ERA in the AL at 2.61. That and the fact that he's been one of the best pitchers in MLB since the break last year will help him make the cut.
Starting Pitcher: Jon Lester, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Lester's All-Star hopes are helped by Farrell's say in the matter, but he has numbers too. His 2.92 ERA is one of the best in the AL, and he's also among the leaders in innings with 114 and strikeouts with 115.
Starting Pitcher: David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
The lowly Rays are probably only going to send one player to Minnesota. Odds are it will be Price. He has his reputation and is also leading the American League in innings with 131 and in K/BB ratio at 9.00.
Starting Pitcher: Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
There are a number of starters you can argue for ahead of Richards, but the AL's players and Farrell might have a hard time ignoring his 9-2 record, 2.81 ERA and 108 strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees
Tanaka is tied for the AL lead in wins with 11 and in ERA at 2.10, and he's also tied for fifth with 127 strikeouts and is third in K/BB ratio at 7.06. He's a King Felix-level lock.
Relief Pitcher: Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees
Because he's not a closer, Betances would be an unusual All-Star pick. However, you'd hope a guy who's pitched 48 innings in 35 games with a 1.50 ERA and a 14.25 K/9 would stand out as an All-Star anyway.
Relief Pitcher: Sean Doolittle, LHP, Oakland A's
I have a feeling this could be wishful thinking, but hopefully not. Doolittle has been money since taking over Oakland's closer role, and his absurd AL-leading 28.50 K/BB ratio should overshadow his 2.97 ERA in 33 games.
Relief Pitcher: Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Holland has been one of the best relievers in baseball in recent years, and he should make his second straight All-Star squad on the strength of 23 saves (tied for the AL lead), a 1.99 ERA and a 13.9 K/9 rate.
Relief Pitcher: Fernando Rodney, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Somewhat quietly, Rodney's having a terrific season in his first year with the Mariners. He's right there with Holland in saves at 23, and he also has a 2.23 ERA and a 10.30 K/9 in 34 games.
Relief Pitcher: Koji Uehara, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Though he's showed signs of being human recently, Uehara's 1.40 ERA is still tops among AL closers, and he has 18 saves to go with it. Plus, this is Farrell's chance to reward him for all he's done since taking over as Boston's closer last summer.
National League Pitchers
Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Beckett's rough start Tuesday knocked his All-Star case down a peg, but it's still strong. Beyond his 2.46 ERA ranking fifth among NL starters, he has a terrific comeback story going for him.
Starting Pitcher: Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Through 17 starts, Cueto is leading the NL in both ERA at 1.88 and in innings pitched with 124.1. He's a lock for what's frankly an overdue All-Star appearance.
Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Greinke has been a little up and down recently, but I can't see a guy with 10 wins and a 2.78 ERA in 17 starts being overlooked by NL players and Matheny. He's also leading NL starters with a 5.55 K/BB ratio.
Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Though he missed all of April, there hasn't been a pitcher in the NL as dominant as Kershaw in 2014. With a league-best 12.14 K/9 and a 1.25 BB/9, he's pitched even better than his 2.04 ERA indicates. FanGraphs' Tony Blengino rightfully calls Kershaw "The Greatest Pitcher of This Era," and (just as rightfully) wrote this: "They simply don’t make them any better than Clayton Kershaw, circa 2014."
Starting Pitcher: Alfredo Simon, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Hey, if Greinke makes the team with 10 wins and a 2.78 ERA, Simon will have to make it with 10 wins and a 2.81 ERA. We all had him pegged as an All-Star, right?
Starting Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals
With just a 7-6 record and a 3.53 ERA, Strasburg isn't doing so hot in the eyes of traditional stats. But he does have a comfortable league lead with 131 strikeouts, and that should get him in.
Starting Pitcher: Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Teheran has one of the best ERAs in the NL at 2.34 and is right there behind Cueto in innings with 119. Add in a 4.48 K/BB ratio and a solid 7-5 record, and he should make it.
Starting Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright entered Wednesday ranked just behind Cueto in ERA at 2.01, fourth in innings with 116.1 and tied with Greinke and Simon for the NL lead with 10 wins. Yup, he'll make it.
Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Relief Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
Chapman got a late start to his season thanks to that nasty injury suffered in spring training, but he's done nothing but dominate since his return. He's saved 16 games in 23 appearances and struck out 46 of the 90 batters he's faced. Just over half of them.
Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Rodriguez entered Wednesday leading the National League in saves with 27. That's enough for an automatic selection, and then you have his 2.34 ERA and 5.44 K/BB ratio.
Relief Pitcher: Rafael Soriano, RHP, Washington Nationals
Soriano is sitting on 19 saves through his first 33 appearances, and his 1.09 ERA is one of the best among NL closers. He should make the cut.
Relief Pitcher: Huston Street, RHP, San Diego Padres
There aren't many good Padres to choose from this year, but you're looking at the easiest choice for the All-Star team. Street has 22 saves in 30 appearances, and his 0.90 ERA is the best among NL closers.
American League Final Vote
There will be five players put up for the American League Final Vote after the initial rosters are revealed Sunday night. If my projections are accurate—just go with that notion for a second—I can envision maybe a dozen players being candidates for those five spots.
Rather than narrow it down, though, I'll just present the player I think has the best shot to end up in the final five and of winning the vote: Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
If not for the presence of Altuve, Kinsler would be a lock for the American League's bench as Robinson Cano's backup. Through 79 games, he's racked up a .306 average, 10 homers and nine stolen bases. And for what it's worth, FanGraphs actually puts his WAR ahead of all other AL second basemen.
If Kinsler does find his way on to the Final Vote ballot, the fan support should be there. He's been an All-Star before and has received more fan votes this year than any second baseman not named Cano.
National League Final Vote
Like with the AL Final Vote, there will be more than enough players to choose from for the NL Final Vote if—obligatory "just go with it" remark goes here—my roster projections pan out.
But I'll play it safe and go with a guy we know can win one of these things: Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Freeman was the NL Final Vote winner in 2013, and his first-half performance this year is even better than last year's. Through 84 games, he's racked up an .882 OPS and 13 homers and is among the NL leaders in doubles with 24.
Freeman winning would mean four first basemen for the National League squad. But in a game that's going to have the DH, I guess that's OK.
Final American League Roster
If you take the American League's projected starters and add them to the league's projected bench and pitching staff, what you get is a darn fine collection of 34 players:
Final National League Roster
Meanwhile, in the Senior Circuit, the National League's projected roster doesn't look too shabby either: