It's that time of the year again. Fan voting is in full swing for the 2008 All-Star Game.
More often than not, fans only pick names that they know and hear on SportsCenter, and they don't take the time to vote for the most deserving players.
Normally this wouldn't matter.
The All-Star Game is an exhibition for the fans, and they should be able to vote in the players they want to see.
But this is Major League Baseball. This is a league run by Bud Selig. Thanks to his knee-jerk reaction to the tie that ended the 2002 All-Star Game, the midsummer classic counts, and not just for some extra coin for the winning players, but for home-field advantage in the World Series.
With this in mind, it is a fan's duty to vote for the players that best give their team's league a chance to win.
Without further delay, here are my choices for the NL All-Star roster.
Catcher: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs
Defensively, Soto has handled a pitching staff that leads the NL in ERA, BAA, and is tied for first in saves. He also has thrown out more than 28 percent of base stealers.
At the plate, Soto is second among NL catchers in home runs, doubles, RBI, slugging, and OPS. He edges out Brian McCann, who is first among NL catchers in most major offensive categories.
The Cubs' ERA is lower with Soto behind the plate than their overall team ERA, while the Braves' ERA is higher with McCann behind the plate than their overall ERA.
First Base: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros
Berkman leads NL first basemen in batting average (.360) and home runs (19). He has been one of the few bright spots for an Astros team that is fifth in the NL Central.
He edges out Albert Pujols who has 16 HR for the surprising Cardinals.
Second Base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
This may be the biggest no-brainer.
Utley leads the league in homers (22) and RBI (62). He has led the Phillies to the top of the NL East standings.
I would give All-Star reserve consideration to Mark Derosa.
He has been a steady bat in the Cubs' lineup, and while listed as a second baseman, he can play nearly every position on the field for the Cubbies.
Third Base: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Along with Utley, Chipper is the other no-brainer on this list.
His chase for .400 has been one of the few bright spots for the Braves, a team that has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Though it is highly unlikely he will finish at or above .400, it will be exciting to see how long he can continue the pursuit.
My runner-up at third is the Cubs' Aramis Ramiris, who is second among third basemen in OPS, RBI, and doubles.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins
This was the hardest pick for me.
I narrowly picked Ramirez over Jose Reyes. Reyes leads NL shortstops with 25 stolen bases and 20 doubles. Ramirez, though, leads his position in OPS, home runs, and runs scored.
Outfield: Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis Cardinals; Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; and Pat Burrell, Philadelphia Phillies
None of these three is currently in the fans' starting lineup, though Braun is making a surge and is currently fourth.
Ludwick leads NL outfielders in slugging percentage and RBI, and he is third in batting average and fourth in home runs.
Braun leads all NL outfielders with 19 HRs, is second with 53 RBI, and has five assists.
Burrell is first among NL outfielders in OPS, has 18 HRs, walks more than he strikes out, and has six assists.
My three outfielders edged out are Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, and Xavier Nady.
Starting Pitcher: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
Now, I know that fans have no say on who pitches, but I thought I'd make a pick anyway.
Volquez is 9-2. His 1.64 ERA is more than half a run less than anyone else's and is more than a full run less than Brandon Webb's. Volquez also leads the NL in strikeouts and has given up the fewest hits.
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