2010 All-Rookie Game: N.L. vs. A.L.
On July 13,2010 many familiar faces will be lining up along the freshly painted foul lines at Angels Stadium in preparation for the Midsummer Classic.
Familiar faces such as: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and many others. However, there are many new faces and first timers that you will see:Andre Either, Jason Heyward, and Martin Prado.
The game that had once been considered a match-up between each leagues' highly profiled veterans, has now seemingly taken a turn to a game for the boys of summer.
So instead of talking about the new faces in the All-Star Game this year I created a 2010 All-Rookie Team for both the N.L. and A.L. to display the faces of the future to everyone.
Take a look and tell me which squad you think has the advantage and about what players you think will have successful careers or even Hall of Fame careers.
N.L. Manager: Brad Mills, Astros
There is only one manager in the National League who is in his first year of coaching in the "Show." So it was pretty easy to decide this.
Just about midway through his first season in the Bigs as a manager for the Houston Astros, Brad Mills finds his team near the bottom of the cellar in the National League Central.
The team currently sits in 5th place, just above the last place Pirates, and has an overall record of 36-53.
However, it's hard to say that he has done a bad job in his first year since the Astros weren't expected by anyone to be major contenders this year in the NL Central.
The team's talent is just not close to what the first place Reds and 2nd place Cardinals have, as the Astros have struggled in the two most important facets of the game: hitting and pitching.
The teams offensive production has been abominable to say the least this year. They are hitting a dismal .237 overall team average which ranks 29th in the league.
Also, the Astros have hit a minuscule 57 home runs-27th in the league, have driven in only 289 runs-28th in the league, and have only 691 hits-28th in the league.
They haven't been as bad from the pitching rubber this year but not great, as they rank 23rd in the league in ERA (4.43).
All they can hope is that they come out in the second half and play above .500 ball and look forward to next year.
N.L. Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants (Age: 23)
SEASON STATS:(38 Games Played)
.350(AVG.), 41(R), 64(H), 13(2B), 3(3B), 7(HR), 25(RBI)
Ever since putting on a big league uniform for the first time on May 29, 2010, Buster Posey has been on a tear. He has literally knocked the cover off the ball, especially in these past few weeks before the All-Star Break.
So far in the month of July he has gone 19-for-37 from the plate, a .514 average. Most extraordinary six of his 19 hits have been home runs. Everyone knew he had power, but no one saw this coming.
In July, he also has an amazing .558 OBP and an even more astonishing 1.027 SLG%. So isn't that a 1.585 OPS?
Yes, it sure is. Miguel Cabrera leads all of baseball with a 1.074.
This power surge of Posey's is sure to decline at some time, but he will give you a plus .300 average and hit over 20 bombs a year. He's the type of player you want to build a franchise around.
Strengths: Average, Power, Doesn't K much
Weaknesses: Hasn't learned how to manage a game from behind the plate to the fullest, still has a lot to learn, especially about his pitching staff.
N.L. First Baseman: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (Age: 26)
SEASON STATS: (84 Games Played)
.302(AVG.), 43(R), 95(H), 21(2B), 2(3B), 9(HR), 38(RBI)
This was a close call between Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis, but I have to give the nod to Sanchez.
Sanchez hasn't been one of the high profiled rookies this year, such as Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward. Though when you look at his numbers, it's hard to say he isn't deserving of being one of the top candidates for first half rookie of the year.
After all, he has more hits than any other rookie in the National League and ranks in the top three or so in many others.
Sanchez has a very promising future ahead of him.
Strengths: Hits for average, power, run producer, good OPS, great fastball hitter
Weaknesses: Has trouble hitting off-speed pitches
N.L. 2B: Neil Walker, Pirates (Age: 24)
SEASON STATS: (36 Games Played)
.275(AVG.), 19(R), 39(H), 10(2B), 1(3B), 3(HR), 12(RBI)
When given the chance, Walker has performed extremely well this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is one of many young talented Pirates who seem to have a bright future, that is, a few years down the road from now.
Walker hasn't been in the starting lineup all season, due to the fact that he wasn't called up until late May. Ever since he was called up Walker has been very productive with the bat and as well as in the infield.
Just recently Walker was placed in the three hole, so look for him to play a major offensive role in the second half of the season for the Pirates.
Strengths: Can hit for average, decent power
Weaknesses: very poor BB:K ratio, speed
N.L. SS: Ian Desmond, Nationals (Age: 24)
SEASON STATS: (83 Games Played)
.255(AVG.), 31(R), 69(H), 14(2B), 3(3B), 6(HR), 36(RBI)
On Sports Center every night if you hear them mention the name Ian Desmond, it's probably because he made another fielding error. At the midpoint of the 2010 season Desmond leads all of baseball in a category that no one wants to lead in, especially if you're a rookie.
He has made a league high 21 errors, resulting in a .943 fielding percentage. There's no question that this is very concerning, but it's something that can be fixed in the near future.
The Nationals have instead looked at his other side of play; with the bat.
The numbers aren't great, but Desmond is one of those electric players that fans love to watch. He has a little bit of pop, speed, and has shown glimpses that he can hit for average.
In the current month of July he is hitting .308 and has hit two home runs. The Nationals are hoping he can continue this type of play in the second half.
Strengths: Speed, has a little pop
Weaknesses: Horrid OBP(.295), extremely error prone, has a lot to learn
N.L. 3B: David Freese, Cardinals (Age: 27)
SEASON STATS: (70 Games Played)
.296(AVG.), 28(R), 71(H), 12(2B), 1(3B), 4(HR), 36(RBI)
The productive first half play of rookie third-baseman David Freese has come as a great surprise to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Entering the 2010 season the Cardinals thought of Freese like any other starting rookie on a major league ball club. They expected him to produce on the offensive and defensive side of the ball and for him to get a knack for what it's like playing in the BIGS.
The 27 year-old rookie had finally being given a chance to play at the everyday big league level and he was going to make the most of it.
After his first two months in the BIGS he was hitting .318 and considered one of the major threats in the Cardinals powerful lineup.
However, in the late part of June he suffered an ankle injury and was placed on the DL on June 27. Tony LaRussa expects him to make a return in late July and continue to make a major impact.
Freese has been one of the biggest surprise rookie performers of the first half of the 2010 season.
Strengths: Hits for average, run producer, big threat in any lineup
Weaknesses: injury prone
N.L. RF: Jason Heyward, Braves (Age: 20)
SEASON STATS: (71 Games Played)
.251(AVG.), 41(R), 64(H), 13(2B), 3(3B), 11(HR), 45(RBI)
The first half of the 2010 MLB Season for the Atlanta Braves has been nothing short of outstanding, as well as the play they have received from their 20-year-old rookie prodigy: Jason Heyward.
Going into the All-Star Break the Braves sit atop the N.L. East with a record of 52-36 and have a very comfortable four game lead over the Mets.
The success is due in large part to the play of their rookie right-fielder, who is the second youngest player ever voted to start in the All-Star Game.
Heyward's outstanding play in the first two months of the season jolted the Braves off to a great start, going 29-22. In that 51 game span Heyward hit .292, with 10 home runs and 38 rbi's (HR and RBI placing in league leaders at the time). Not to mention his .OPS was in the top five in all of baseball.
However, Heyward's numbers dropped off significantly in the month of June. This due to a nagging thumb injury which he had been trying to play through. In the month of June he posted a .181 batting average and only had only one home run. He could no longer play productively with his slight thumb injury, so the Braves placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
He expects to return right after the All-Star Break and give the Braves an even bigger boost towards the playoffs.
Just recently Heyward took a round of batting practice in Triple A to see if he felt like he could take part in the All Star Game, but he decided to opt out of playing to receive some much needed rest.
We have all seen what Heyward can do when he is not playing injured, just look at the two injury free months of play for the "Say Hey" kid.
Expect the future phenom to get back on track and most likely run away with the Rookie of the Year Award race.
Remember the kid is only 20 years old.
Strengths: Can hit for high average, great pop, run producer, speed, he is 5 star caliber athlete
Weaknesses: Can't perform up to par with little nagging injuries, strikes out frequently
N.L. CF: Drew Stubbs, Reds (Age: 25)
SEASON STATS: (85 Games Played)
.235 (AVG.), 47(R), 69(H), 7(2B), 4(3B), 11 (HR), 43 (RBI), 17 (SB)
After showing the Reds what he could do near the end of last year, Stubbs entered the 2010 MLB Season as the teams starting center fielder. Unfortunately, Stubbs got off on the wrong note to start the season.
In the first month of the season, April, he hit a dismal .186 and all power he seemed to have had seemingly disappeared, as he only had one home run in 70 at bats.
But the Reds stuck with him in the starting lineup and it has seemingly payed off. Since May 1st, he has hit .248 and has 10 home runs in 223 at bats.
Stubbs isn't the type of outfielder like Ichiro that will easily hit for .300 each year, but he does have tremendous speed.
Stubbs has successfully swiped 17 out of 20 bases this season and appears as if he could possibly flirt with the 40 stolen base mark by seasons end.
If you look at what Stubbs projected 162 game single season stats will be, how can you not like a guy that will hit around .250 for you, hit 20 plus home runs, and swipe 30-40 bases. That is what we call valuable in sport terms.
Stubbs is a major reason why the Reds' ball club is currently sitting atop the N.L. Central going into the All-Star Break.
Strengths: Speed, power, fielding
Weaknesses: Low average, has his spurts of inconsistency
N.L. LF: Chris Heisey, Reds (Age: 25)
SEASON STATS: (44 Games Played IN)
.286 (AVG.), 14 (R), 20 (H), 2 (2B), 1 (3B), 5 (HR), 7 (RBI)
Obviously there aren't any rookies that play right field and start in the big leagues this year, but that doesn't mean there aren't any productive ones.
Chris Heisey is one of those rookies who does whatever the coach wants him to do and he performs extremely well when given the opportunity.
Heisey is great coming off the bench, as he has posted an above .300 average pinch hitting. He has also displayed to everyone that he has a great deal of pop in his bat too, as eight of his 20 hits this year have been extra base hits (five homers, two doubles, one triple).
If he can keep up these type of power numbers, the Reds will have an even greater shot at making the playoffs.
Heisey is not an everyday starter, but he contributes greatly for his team. He is a great platoon player.
Strengths: Power, Timely Hitting, Great Platoon Player
Weaknesses: Doesn't have the knack to be an everyday starter for a club that is in a pennant race yet
N.L. P: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (Age: 21)
SEASON STATS: (7 Games Started)
3-2 (W-L), 2.32 (ERA), 42.2 (IP), 61 (K), 1.01 (WHIP)
Once again this came down to the question, does he deserve to start in the All-Star Game? But this being the All-Rookie game, I will give him the nod over the Cardinals' rookie ace, Jaime Garcia.
I just couldn't let Strasburg not make an All-Star team for the second time. He is just too good to keep out of it. That is, if there was one, I'm speaking figuratively.
All I can say about Strasburg is WOW! His numbers have been great, but the thing that has impressed me the most is his poise out on the mound and even in his warm ups and pregame, too.
He just looks like he has been doing this for 20 years, instead of acting like the typical 21 year-old pitcher would.
But that's the main thing right there, Stephen Strasburg is not the typical pitcher, he is far beyond that.
Strasburg has made hitters look silly on so many occasions this year it's not even funny. Just recently in his last start before the All-Star Break against the Giants, he faced Edgar Renteria.
He got ahead early with a fastball, then dropped in a nasty curve that made Renteria jump out of the batter's box. For the final strike he dropped in another dirty hook which Renteria came nowhere close to hitting as he let go of his bat in the middle of his swing.
That was just one of about 61 cases this year in which Strasburg has made a hitter look silly at the plate.
It will be fun to see how the Nationals decide to use him in the second half, and when they call it a season for the young 21 year-old.
Strengths: SPEED, WHIP, can take over a game, great poise
Weaknesses: Not much of any
A.L. Manager: Juan Samuel, Orioles
I had to choose Juan Samuel to be the A.L. Manager because he is the only first year manager in the American League. This game is called the All-Rookie Game, even the first year managers in the BIG Leagues are eligible.
Well sorry to be rude and all, but there isn't much to talk about or boast on considering the Orioles have a record of 29-59. Maybe one thing that could be said is that they are 13-20 with Samuel as their manager, but once again that's not saying much.
A.L. C: Carlos Santana, Indians (Age: 24)
SEASON STATS: (29 Games Played)
.284 (AVG.), 17 (R), 27 (H), 12 (2B), 0 (3B), 5 (HR), 16 (RBI)
Well yes, Cleveland, LeBron James is gone! Just face it, but look at the bright side of things: Carlos Santana.
The 24-year-old rookie catcher has turned heads ever since coming up to the big leagues and shows promise to be one of the greatest hitting catchers to ever play the game.
He has great pop in his bat, can hit for average, and can even steal some bases. His numbers are outstanding right now, especially his .993 OPS.
Unfortunately for the Indians, they didn't call him up until June 11. If he had been the starting catcher all year long, he'd probably be sitting somewhere close to 20 home runs.
Don't worry Cleveland, Santana is here to stay!
Strengths: Average, Power, Speed
Weaknesses: managing games from behind the plate
A.L. 1B: Justin Smoak, Mariners (Age: 23)
SEASON STATS: (72 Games Played)
.206 (AVG.), 29 (R), 50 (H), 10 (2B), 0 (3B), 8 (HR), 34 (RBI)
Justin Smoak entered the 2010 campaign as the Texas Rangers starting first baseman, but on July 9th he traded places and headed to division rival Seattle Mariners in part of the trade for Cliff Lee.
The numbers for the young first baseman aren't very good, but there is quite a big deal of promise surrounding him. Many in the Mariners' organization believe he is the type of guy who can belt 30 plus homers a year in the near future. That would be easily supported by his 6"4 220 pound frame.
Smoak is not off to a very strong start in the month of July, but had a very productive month of June. In that month he hit .266 with four homers and 22 rbi's. That is the type of performance that the Mariners expect him to keep up every month in the near future.
The Mariners are very pleased with their acquisition of the young 23 year-old power hitting first baseman.
Strengths: Power, Fielding
Weaknesses: AVG, K's
A.L. 2B: Reid Brignac, Rays (Age: 24)
SEASON STATS: (66 Games Played)
.265 (AVG.), 23 (R), 50 (H), 11 (2B), 1 (3B), 2 (HR), 25 (RBI)
It was either Scott Sizemore or Reid Brignac. You probably haven't heard of either of ,and that's okay. I may have heard a few things about them, but I knew they weren't starters.
However, when I looked over both of their stats and considered how much they meant to their team success, I had to pick Brignac.
Brignac is a guy who gets spot starts every now and then and fills in for an injured player, but most likely will never receive the opportunity to become an everyday starter. However, he does the most he can and puts out productive numbers nonetheless.
He wont hit many home runs, steal many bases, or have a high OBP, but he will have a average ranging .270 and above.
Brignac will serve as a good bench player the rest of the year for the Rays and could fill in for someone if there is an injury.
Strengths: Avg .270 up
Weaknesses: K's , Power
A.L. SS: Jason Donald, Indians (Age: 25)
SEASON STATS: (45 Games Played)
.274 (AVG.), 15 (R), 40 (H), 12 (2B), 2 (3B), 2 (HR), 12 (RBI)
Jason Donald was called up to the Indians roster on May 18th and has been the teams starting shortstop ever since.
He has made the most of his great opportunity so far, as he has been very consistent and enters the All-Star Break with a respectable .274 average.
Donald will take a break now from his hot start in June, because of the All-Star Break. So far in the month he is hitting .345 and has has stolen two bases.
Donald isn't the type of player that's going to hit 20 plus home runs a year and steal 20 bases but he is very capable of hitting around .300 and stealing over 10 bases. Players like Donald are very valuable to their teams.
Strengths: Average, Consistency
A.L. 3B: Danny Valencia, Twins (Age: 25)
SEASON STATS: (20 Games Played)
.310 (AVG.), 4 (R), 18 (H), 2 (2B), 0 (3B), 0 (HR), 3 (RBI)
Well yeah, the stats tell you everything. I'm not saying they are bad but Danny Valencia? Who is that?
Well I can't tell you much about him except that he is the only rookie third baseman that has had much of any playing time this year in the American League.
But from the videos I've seen spotlighting the former Miami Hurricane, I can tell that he has some pop and could be a future starting third baseman down the road for the Twins.
However, I was also impressed a little by his minor league career average of .298. But once again that's minor league stats.
Strengths: Some Power, Average
Weaknesses: Bad BB:K Ratio
A.L. RF: Michael Saunders, Mariners (Age: 23)
SEASON STATS: (50 Games Played)
.216 (AVG.), 20 (R), 30 (H), 6 (2B), 0 (3B), 7 (HR), 21 (RBI)
The 6"4 British Colombian Michael Saunders has displayed many signs of power this year and has been compared to power hitters such as Adam Dunn. If he connects it's going a long way.
However, like Adam Dunn, Saunders has flirted with the Mendoza line for much of the season and sits at .216 going into the All-Star Break.
At the age of 23 he still has plenty of time to develop into the big power hitter many think he is capable of being, but he needs to get better at making consistent contact first.
He has a very poor 15:47 BB:K ratio and a dismal .292 OBP.
The Mariners are hoping he can have a more productive second half and start developing into the player they hope he will one day be.
Weaknesses: Average, OBP
A.L. CF: Austin Jackson, Tigers (Age: 23)
SEASON STATS: (78 Games Played)
.300 (AVG.), 52 (R), 94 (H), 21 (2B), 4 (3B), 1 (HR), 20 (RBI) 14 (SB)
Most likely the biggest off-season acquisition for the Detroit Tigers was receiving Austin Jackson from the Yankees in a trade. The Yankees knew Jackson had potential, but they just didn't have a place to put him.
The Tigers were in need of a center fielder, since they gave the Yankees Curtis Granderson, who could hit leadoff and put up good numbers. Jackson has done just that for the Tigers in the first half of the 2010 season.
Jackson and his counterpart, Brennan Boesch have had unbelievable rookie seasons so far and have combined for an average of .321. It also helps greatly when you have Miguel Cabrera in that lineup as well.
If they keep up their play look for the Tigers to make a major run at making the playoffs.
Strengths: Speed, average, scores a lot, great
Weaknesses: Injury prone, K's frequently
A.L. LF: Brennana Boesch, Tigers (Age: 25)
SEASON STATS: (65 Games Played)
.342 (AVG.), 34 (R), 83 (H), 19 (2B), 3 (3B), 12 (HR), 49 (RBI)
If there was a mid-season award for most valuable rookie, Brennan Boesch would win it hands down easily over Strasburg and everyone else. Heck, he might even be some people's midseason MVP. His numbers tell the story.
Boesch has been on fire from the very start. In only 65 games he has driven-in 49 runs and belted 12 home runs. He has the highest batting average of any rookie (4th in all of MLB), most RBI's, and highest slugging percentage(4th in MLB).
However, despite the outstanding first half of play for the young left fielder he wasn't invited to take part in the All-Star Game. He wasn't even considered as the A.L. final vote. That to me is a major snub right there.
But don't worry Brennan you made the A.L. All-Rookie Team and you are hitting fourth in the lineup.
Strengths: Average, power, run producer
A.L. P: Mitch Talbot, Indians (Age: 26)
SEASON STATS: (17 Games Started)
8-8 (W-L), 3.99 (ERA), 108.1 (IP), 54 (K), 1.38 (WHIP)
Many at this point in the season are just hearing about Mitch Talbot and wondering where did this guy come from? Well that doesn't really matter because he is here now and is the Indians' ace.
Talbot has put up very impressive first half numbers and has been a workhorse, pitching in 108.1 innings.
He is the type of pitcher you want out there throwing when your bullpen needs a rest. I'm not saying he's a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, but he is a workhorse no doubt.
The Indians are blessed to have him the way things are going right now.
Strengths: Workhorse, Gets Hitters to Ground Out
Weaknesses: High WHIP, ERA