Although it is only a few weeks into the 2010 Major League Baseball season, it's not too early to take a look at the 2010 Midsummer Classic in Anaheim, California. All-Star week is filled with excitement and fun for MLB players and fans. Who will be representing their respective leagues in Anaheim?
Pitcher: Zack Greinke-Kansas City Royals
Catcher: Joe Mauer-Minnesota Twins
First Base: Kevin Youkilis-Boston Red Sox
Second Base: Robinson Cano-New York Yankees
Third Base: Evan Longoria-Tampa Bay Rays
Shortstop: Derek Jeter-New York Yankees
Left Field: Carl Crawford-Tampa Bay Rays
Center Field: Torii Hunter-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Right Field: Nelson Cruz-Texas Rangers
Designated Hitter: Hideki Matsui-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Catcher: Matt Wieters-Baltimore Orioles
First Base: Mark Teixeira-New York Yankees
First Base: Miguel Cabrera-Detroit Tigers
First Base: Justin Morneau-Minnesota Twins
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia-Boston Red Sox
Second Base: Gordon Beckham-Chicago White Sox
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez-New York Yankees
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez-Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield: Josh Hamilton-Texas Rangers
Outfield: Adam Lind-Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury-Boston Red Sox
Outfield: Curtis Granderson-New York Yankees
Outfield: Shin-Soo Choo-Cleveland Indians
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki-Seattle Mariners
Felix Hernandez-Seattle Mariners
Jon Lester-Boston Red Sox
Justin Verlander-Detroit Tigers
CC Sabathia-New York Yankees
John Lackey-Boston Red Sox
Brett Anderson-Oakland Athletics
Mariano Rivera-New York Yankees
Jonathan Papelbon-Boston Red Sox
Jon Rauch-Minnesota Twins
David Aardsma-Seattle Mariners
In the starting lineup, there are no major shocks. Greinke is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, Mauer is the best catcher in the league, Jeter has no competition at shortstop, and Carl Crawford has been a great outfielder for the past few years.
Kevin Youkilis at first base would be a bit of a surprise to most. However, he did make the team last season, and I don't see Mark Teixeira or Miguel Cabrera having a good enough first half to overtake him. Look for Youkilis to have strong first half for the Red Sox.
Also, Robinson Cano will finally have his breakout season. He has yet to be consistent for the Yankees, however, everything may finally be in place for him to be a major contributor to New York's lineup.
Alex Rodriguez will not dominate as he has in past seasons. Evan Longoria has played well over the past few seasons. He deserves to receive a start in the All-Star Game.
In addition, Nelson Cruz has started this season hot. He is currently hitting .353 with six home runs and twelve RBI. Obviously, it is too early to tell if he will stay hot. However, he did make the All-Star team last season, and Ichiro, the usual starter in right field, will not have a strong season, thrusting Cruz into the starting lineup.
Designated hitter is somewhat improvised. Matsui does not always DH for the Angels. However, he will certainly have a better first half than David Ortiz, Travis Hafner, or Carlos Guillen.
In the reserves, there are two surprises. First, there is Alex Gonzalez making the team as a shortstop reserve. Even I find this prediction a bit farfetched. However, he has started the season red-hot. My belief is that he will have a breakout season similarly to Adam Lind, Ben Zobrist, and Jason Bartlett from 2009.
Also, Jon Rauch is on the list as an All-Star reliever. He is currently the Minnesota Twins' closer, due to Joe Nathan's injury. So far, he has six saves and has given up just one earned run.
Last season, there were many closers that few people had heard of before the season started, who made All-Star rosters. Andrew Bailey and Ryan Franklin both surprised by having terrific seasons. In addition, David Aardsma and Rafael Soriano both had very good seasons without even winning the closing job to begin the year. Seeing Rauch on the 2010 AL All-Star team wouldn't surprise me at all.
Pitcher: Tim Lincecum-San Francisco Giants
Catcher: Brian McCann-Atlanta Braves
First Base: Albert Pujols-St. Louis Cardinals
Second Base: Chase Utley-Philadelphia Phillies
Third Base: David Wright-New York Mets
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez-Florida Marlins
Left Field: Ryan Braun-Milwaukee Brewers
Center Field: Matt Kemp-Los Angeles Dodgers
Right Field: Andre Ethier-Los Angeles Dodgers
Designated Hitter: Prince Fielder-Milwaukee Brewers
Catcher: Yadier Molina-St. Louis Cardinals
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez-San Diego Padres
First Base: Ryan Howard-Philadelphia Phillies
Second Base: Martin Prado-Atlanta Braves
Third Base: Mark Reynolds-Arizona Diamondbacks
Third Base: Casey McGehee-Milwaukee Brewers
Shortstop: Stephen Drew-Arizona Diamondbacks
Outfield: Josh Willingham-Washington Nationals
Outfield: Jason Heyward-Atlanta Braves
Outfield: Shane Victorino-Philadelphia Phillies
Outfield: Jayson Werth-Philadelphia Phillies
Outfield: Justin Upton-Arizona Diamondbacks
Outfield: Matt Holliday-St. Louis Cardinals
Roy Halladay-Philadelphia Phillies
Ubaldo Jiminez-Colorado Rockies
Adam Wainwright-St. Louis Cardinals
Tommy Hanson-Atlanta Braves
Ricky Nolasco-Florida Marlins
Dan Haren-Arizona Diamondbacks
Ryan Franklin-St. Louis Cardinals
Francisco Cordero-Cincinnati Reds
Heath Bell-San Diego Padres
Brian Wilson-San Francisco Giants
The National League starting lineup is essentially the same as last season's, especially in the infield. There are only a few changes. Brian McCann will overtake Yadier Molina at catcher, in part because the 2010 Midsummer Classic is not in St. Louis.
In addition, Matt Kemp will take another big step in becoming a great player this season. He is one of the best young stars in the game today, and is only getting better. Kemp deserves to be an All-Star starter.
Kemp's teammate, Andre Ethier, will continue to play well. He was a good outfield option for the Dodgers last season, winning a Silver Slugger Award. Plus, he has started 2010 hot. Look for Ethier's strong play to continue throughout the season, giving him his first career All-Star appearance.
Obviously, the National League rarely uses a designated hitter. Therefore, I put in who I believed was the best hitter that was not starting. Fielder is a great hitter and first baseman, but no one will surpass Albert Pujols in the starting lineup.
The first surprise on the reserve list is Braves' second baseman Martin Prado. He currently has one of the highest batting averages in the majors, along with one of the highest on-base percentages.
Now, Prado won't provide any great power numbers. But keep in mind that he has produced before. Last season, Prado played well in the absence of Kelly Johnson at second base. Look for him to produce even more in an expanded role this season.
At third base, Casey McGehee makes it on the roster. Like Prado, he produced in a limited role last season as has started this season on fire. Although it might be unlikely that he makes the roster, McGehee certainly deserves a shot. If he can sustain his success, then there is a good possibility that the Brewers' third baseman makes the National League roster.
Josh Willingham is another surprise on this roster. Just like Prado and McGehee, he had success last season, posting 24 home runs. He already has three this season. Don't be surprised if the Nationals' outfielder continues to stay hot and sneak on the National League All-Star team.
Then there is Jason Heyward, one of the most sought-after prospects of the season. He has started off his rookie season very well, posting three home runs, 15 RBI, and a .302 batting average. Heyward's first career at bat was a home run.
Although it is rather unlikely a rookie will make the All-Star team, Heyward has the tools to do so. Look for him to continue to play exceptionally well and make the National League team.
Heyward's teammate Tommy Hanson burst onto the baseball scene last season and pitched very well. He will continue to improve through the course of this season and develop into a superstar. This season will be the first of many All-Star appearances for Hanson.
Obviously, it is fairly early to be thinking about the All-Star Game, therefore I expect a lot of disagreement over my predictions.
Honestly, I doubt that many of these forecasts are correct. But, it's fun to at least try, right?