We are nearing the halfway point for the MLB season, which means it's almost time to play the All-Star Game.
Who deserves to make it over the guys that will make it just because of their name? Which players are having the most under-the-radar seasons?
Check out this slideshow to find out the 34 players who will be making the trip to Anaheim in a couple of weeks to represent the AL in the All-Star Game.
Starter: Joe Mauer (MIN)
Joe Mauer is currently leading the fan vote, and for good reason.
Although the home run power isn't there, Mauer is still putting together an impressive .300/.378/.428 line so far on the season.
The new park has hurt Mauer's home run power, as seen by his 21 doubles and three home runs. Last year, Mauer had 30 doubles and 28 home runs.
Mauer is still the best AL catcher by a considerable margin and deserves to start the All-Star Game.
Reserve: Kurt Suzuki (OAK)
This choice is somewhat because Oakland needed a representative, but Suzuki has the numbers to back up the selection (especially since catcher is a weak position this year).
His line of .264/.318/.453 makes him the best power offensive threat on a weak offensive team. Suzuki's 10 home runs leads the Athletics, and that comes with the catcher missing some time due to a stay on the disabled list earlier this season.
Note: Victor Martinez probably should make it as a backup, but I think he will miss the game because of a recent injury.
Starter: Justin Morneau (MIN)
Morneau started off hitting a ridiculous .380 for the first month and half of the 2010 season. Though he has "slowed down" and his average is down to .350, his OPS is still a ridiculous 1.061 and he is playing great defense over at first.
Even with moving to the new, hitter's ballpark, Morneau has 15 homeruns this season. That means he is on pace to duplicate his 30 homer campaign from 2009.
Reserves: Miguel Cabrera (DET), Kevin Youkilis (BOS), Paul Konerko (CWS)
It was a tough choice to leave Cabrera out of the starting lineup, but his defense hurt him a bit. Still, Cabrera is having an MVP-type season in Detroit. His 20 home runs and 66 RBI are near tops in the AL and his .335/.412/.629 line is absolutely ridiculous.
Youkilis is also having a great season. The Red Sox first baseman has belted 15 home runs and is hitting .306 while getting on base 42.5 percent of the time. The 31-year-old is leading a potent Red Sox lineup this year, which could get him some MVP talk when that time rolls around.
Paul Konerko has been the face of the recent surge by the White Sox. The 34-year-old hasn't slowed down because of age and is producing some very impressive power numbers this year. Konerko has 20 homers and a healthy .284 ISO (SLG minus AVG), good for fifth in the AL.
Starter: Robinson Cano (NYY)
When discussing first half MVPs, many experts point to Robinson Cano as a great choice for the award. Cano has broken through to another level in 2010, hitting a league-best .354 to go along with a great 1.002 OPS.
Cano has carried the Yankees offense right when they have needed him to step up. Mark Teixeira has had a slow start this season, but the emergence of Cano as an all-around hitter has helped the Yankees offense stay in the top three in the AL.
Cano is also playing great defense, ranking third in the AL in UZR, trailing only Orlando Hudson and Dustin Pedroia.
Reserve: Ty Wigginton (BAL)
This position would go to Dustin Pedroia if he didn't get injured, but since the space is open, I figured I'd get my Oriole into the game.
Wigginton blazed out of the gates with 11 home runs in the month of April to go along with a .308 batting average that month. Even though he has slowed down as of late, he has still put up a pretty respectable .823 OPS through 70 games.
Plus, who else from the Orioles deserves to make it?
Starter: Adrian Beltre (BOS)
When Adrian Beltre went to the Red Sox this winter, I didn't think he would be too much of an improvement offensively over Mike Lowell. Boy, was I wrong.
Beltre has crushed the ball this season to the tune of a .340/.379/.547 line, reverting back to the form he had in his MVP season of 2004.
Even with the great offensive numbers, the 31-year-old gets the starting nod from me because of his defense. His 5.5 UZR is by far the best at third base in the AL.
Reserves: Evan Longoria (TBR), Michael Young (TEX)
Longoria is the obvious choice for the immediate backup to Beltre. The Rays third baseman has batted .297/.376/.514 this year with 12 home runs and 52 RBI. Even though the Rays are struggling as of late, Longoria hasn't missed a beat and continues to lead the team offensively.
Michael Young barely beats out A-Rod for the second reserve spot because of his slightly better offensive numbers. The two are tied in home runs with 11, but Young has a better average, on base percentage and slugging percentage than A-Rod, so that makes up for a slight defensive edge to the Yankees' third baseman.
Starter: Derek Jeter (NYY)
Jeter just keeps on performing, even as he enters his mid to upper 30's. Even though his hitting stats have slipped during the last couple of weeks, he currently has a .286/.347/.418 line with just below league average defense at shortstop. Plus, there is no way Jeter doesn't get voted in by the fans.
Reserve: Elvis Andrus (TEX)
Even though Andrus has no home runs, I have him on the team because of his speed (21 steals), his ability to hit in the clutch (.377/.500/.459 with runners in scoring position) and his defense.
Also, I can't add Alex Gonzalez to the team just because he has a lot of home runs for a shortstop. Andrus has it all at only 21 years old. This will be the first of many All-Star games for "The King."
Starters: Josh Hamilton (TEX), Carl Crawford (TBR), Alex Rios (CWS)
Josh Hamilton's ridiculous month of June has pushed him from the outside looking in all the way to starting the All-Star Game. Hamilton's current 21-game hitting streak in which he has hit nearly .500, has helped push his season totals to .346/.389/.620 with 18 home runs and 57 RBI.
Crawford will play center for the AL squad because of his great defensive skills, but he also deserves to make the team as a hitter. Crawford is hitting .306 with seven home runs and 26 steals and would be a perfect leadoff man for the AL.
Alex Rios is in Chicago, having a quietly awesome year at the plate. Rios has clubbed 13 home runs and 18 doubles while hitting .312 and playing above-average defense in center. After a dismal 2009 season, Rios earning a starting spot in the All-Star Game would be a great story for the whole league to notice.
Reserves: Shin-Soo Choo (CLE), Ichiro (SEA), Vernon Wells (TOR), Magglio Ordonez (DET)
Shin-Soo Choo may just look like a random guy for the Indians representative, but he is surely deserving of a spot on the All-Star team. Choo is fourth among AL outfielders in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 2.9, mainly because of his 46 runs, 12 home runs, .389 OBP and great defense in right field.
The 27-year-old has deserved to make the team in past seasons, so hopefully this is finally the year.
A staple in the last nine All-Star Games, Ichiro is deserving of a 10th trip to the Mid-Summer Classic. His 2010 batting average of .333 is right in line with his career average and he has already stolen 21 bases. In 146 games in 2009, Ichiro only stole 26 bases, so you can tell he is completely healthy this season.
Vernon Wells entered his contract year needing a big season to get some good money on the open market when free agency opens after 2010, and he has gotten just that.
Though his fielding hasn't been what we expect from Vernon Wells, he is more than making up for it on offense. Wells is on pace to break his single season record of 33 home runs (set in 2003), as he already has 19 through 76 games this season. Wells has also scored 44 runs and drove in 47, so he is having an all-around solid season.
Finally, Magglio Ordonez is also having a resurgent power year. His average and on base percentage (.319/.394) is on par with his totals last year, but he has already surpassed his home run total from 2009 (nine) in 2010 (10). His great year has gone largely unnoticed, but hopefully the players and mangers see what he has done this season.
Starter: Vladimir Guerrero (TEX)
After the Angels unceremoniously let Vlad Guerrero walk this offseason, the team he has killed the most over his 14-year career, the Rangers, decided to sign him. The signing could be the best of the entire offseason.
Vlad has bounced back from his injury-plagued 2009 season to put up some great numbers in 2010. His .327 average is great on its own, but Vlad has also hit 15 home runs, knocked in 60 runs and even stolen four bases! Guerrero is a runaway winner in this category, and that is the way it should be.
Reserve: David Ortiz (BOS)
Ortiz had another awful April this season (.173 average, 1 homer), but he has responded with some better months of May and June to push his season totals to .252/.356/.542 and 16 home runs. He may not be the David Ortiz of old who hit .300 in 2004, 2005, and 2007, but at least he is hitting in the .250 range with a lot of power.
All-Star Starter: Cliff Lee (SEA)
Lee missed the first month of the season, but that hasn't kept him from putting up some dominant numbers. Through 11 starts and 86.2 innings, Lee has struck out 76 while walking only four. Incredible. His 1.97 FIP in the AL is unbelievable, as is his 2.39 ERA.
He may be the big chip on the trade block when July 31st rolls around, but Lee deserves to start the All-Star game as a Mariner on July 13th.
Other Starters: Francisco Liriano (MIN), Jon Lester (BOS), Jered Weaver (LAA), David Price (TBR), Clay Buchholz (BOS), Phil Hughes (NYY)
Liriano is having a great bounce-back year from injuries in his last three seasons. He has posted a 3.47 ERA and a 2.19 FIP in 98.2 innings while striking out 106 and walking only 27. His 6-6 record shouldn't scare you away, because he has great peripherals.
Jon Lester is turning into a guy that will be a top five pitcher year in and year out in the AL. In 16 starts and 107 innings this year, Lester has a 2.86 ERA, a 3.01 FIP and 111 strikeouts. Although there are a lot of good pitchers on the Red Sox staff, Lester is the ace.
Sadly, Jered Weaver should probably be the only Angels representative in the All-Star Game that will be held in Anaheim. Weaver has the most strikeouts in the AL (118) and boasts a 7-3 record to go along with his 3.01 ERA and 2.93 FIP. He has also only walked 24 batters in 101.2 innings.
David Price will likely get into the All-Star Game mainly because of his double digit wins, but he also has all the other stats to back the selection up. His 2.44 ERA is tops on his team and puts him second in the AL, so he deserves his first trip to the All-Star Game.
Clay Buchholz should also make the team from the Boston Red Sox rotation. Although he is only striking out 6.26 per nine innings, Buchholz has a 2.45 ERA, 3.47 FIP and is at 2.2 wins over replacement in the AL (eighth).
Finally, Phil Hughes and his 10-1 record will round out the starters selected to the All-Star Game. Hughes has a 3.17 ERA in a hitter-friendly park and is striking out nearly a batter per inning. Pretty good for a guy who just turned 24.
Closer: Mariano Rivera (NYY)
Rivera continues his dominance as a closer, even at 40 years old. His 0.92 ERA is flat out ridiculous, but his 0.61 WHIP is even more improbable. Joe Girardi will be managing the AL and you can bet if the game is on the line in the ninth inning, you'll see Rivera trotting out of the bullpen to save the game.
Other Relievers: Neftali Feliz (TEX), Jose Valverde (DET), Rafael Soriano (TBR), Joakim Soria (KC)
Feliz is in his rookie season, but he is already showing his dominance as a closer. His 20 saves lead the AL, but he is also striking out 10 batters per nine innings and is sporting a sweet 2.70 ERA. Feliz has been in a lot of high leverage situations this year, and for a 22-year-old, has performed admirably.
Jose Valverde is doing great in his transition to the AL. His 0.53 ERA trumps Rivera's impressive number and he has recorded 18 saves for the Tigers, a team in the thick of a division race.
Rafael Soriano has also been dominant as a closer this season. He has a 1.63 ERA and his impressive 1.63 walks per nine innings make him tough to beat. He has nearly a strikeout per inning and has saved 18 games for the Tampa Bay Rays, so I can't see how he is left off the roster.
Even though he pitches for a losing team, Joakim Soria has 19 saves to go along with his 2.51 ERA and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Soria is the best closer that no one has ever heard of, so he should make the All-Star team this season.
Justin Verlander - 9-5, 4.02 ERA, 93 K's, 1.16 WHIP
Ricky Romero - 6-4, 2.83 ERA, 103 K's, 1.23 WHIP
Felix Hernandez - 5-5, 3.28 ERA, 105 K's, 1.19 WHIP
Billy Butler - .320 AVG, 7 HR, 24 2B, 40 RBI, .843 OPS
Nelson Cruz - .323 AVG, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 1.061 OPS, 2 DL trips
Alex Rodriguez - .285 AVG, 11 HR, 54 RBI, .855 OPS
David DeJesus - .332 AVG, 5 HR, 22 2B, .399 OBP, .880 OPS
Any others I missed?
Team - Players (Starters)
TEX - 5 (2)
BOS - 5 (1)
NYY - 4 (2)
TBR - 4 (1)
MIN - 3 (2)
DET - 3 (0)
SEA - 2 (1)
CWS - 2 (1)
KC - 1 (0)
TOR - 1 (0)
LAA - 1 (0)
OAK - 1 (0)
CLE - 1 (0)
BAL - 1 (0)