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2011 MLB All-Star Game: Predicting, Updating AL and NL Starting Lineups

Alec DoppCorrespondent IMay 16, 2011

2011 MLB All-Star Game: Predicting, Updating AL and NL Starting Lineups

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2011 MLB All-Star Game: Who are the early favorites to represent the AL & NL starting lineups?

    Its never too early to start talking about the mid-summer classic.

    We're just over a month through the 2011 MLB regular season, and it's safe to assume nothing will be predictable as the divisional races heat up.

    Nevertheless, we'll try our hand at projecting the starting lineups for both the American and National leagues for the 2011 All-Star game in Phoenix, Ariz.

    *Please note that all statistics are through May 14, 2011*

    To vote for the 2011 All-Star game, click here.

Catchers

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    DETROIT - APRIL 26:  Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the seventh inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on April 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-3.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Im
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    American League: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers

    Statistics: .273 BA, 24 RBI, 6 HR, .858 OPS

    This is one of the closest calls of all the starting positions, as any number of catchers deserve the starting role.

    However, if you're looking for who has been the most productive for his respectable team, look no further than Avila. 

    With the most RBIs (24), doubles (8) and best slugging percentage (.527) of all AL catchers, Avila is clearly the best choice at this point in the season.

    National League: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

    Statistics: .289 BA, 16 RBI, 2 HR, .752 OPS

    Like the American League, the National League also boasts a plethora of worthy candidates.

    The two most-likely competitors at this point would either be Atlanta's Brian McCann or St. Louis' Yadier Molina—both are virtually neck and neck when it comes to sheer dependability.

    Nevertheless, a decision must be made—Molina has put forth more respectable numbers than McCann.

First Basemen

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 23: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds watches his two-run home run leave the park against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 23, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    American League: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox

    Statistics: .329 BA, 31 RBI, 8 HR, .959 OPS

    Coming into the season, any number of potential nominees could have competed for the starting lineup in the mid-summer classic.

    When it comes to pure production on the diamond however, did you expect anyone other than Gonzalez?

    Though the Red Sox began their 2011 season on a rough note, Gonzalez's productivity hasn't hindered—putting him atop many offensive categories compared to his AL competition.

    National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

    Statistics: .346 BA, 22 RBI, 5 HR, 1.037 OPS

    Another close call, Votto stakes his claim as the most-fitting suitor to start for the National League.

    Leading in OPS (1.037), OBP (.471), SLG (.566), SB (4), and BB (32), Votto presents the most complete résumé to start for the National League.

Second Basemen

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 11:  Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws to first base during the game against the Cleveland Indians on May 11, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    American League: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

    Statistics: .293 BA, 27 RBI, 8 HR, .947 OPS

    Though he'll probably never receive the credit he deserves, Zobrist is every bit impressive as any second baseman the American League has to offer.

    From an offensive standpoint, Zobrist leads the league in OPS, SLG (.579), RBI,and doubles (12).

    Defensively, he lives up to his reputation as being one of manager Joe Maddon's favorites, carrying a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Convinced yet?

    National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

    Statistics: .326 BA, 23 RBI, 5 HR, .863 OPS

    This isn't even close.

    Hounded by his critics as being inconsistent and undependable the past few seasons, Phillips answered those pundits by putting together a solid first month of the 2011 regular season.

    Phillips leads the league in RBI and is second in OPS (.862) and OBP (.377).

Third Basemen

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Infielder Placido Polanco #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 25, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Phill
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    American League: Wilson Betemit, Kansas City Royals

    Statistics: .317 BA, 17 RBI, 1 HR, .850 OPS

    Another solid group with many viable candidates, Betemit gets the benefit of the doubt by putting together the most thorough résumé of all AL third basemen.

    Through just over a month of play, Betemit boasts a league-leading .850 OPS, 12 doubles, three SB, .465 SLG, and .385 OBP.

    National League: Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies

    Statistics: .354 BA, 24 RBI, 2 HR, .848 OPS

    Polanco has always been known for his impressive batting statistics, but his performance to this point in the season has come as a complete shock to the entire league.

    Leading all NL second basemen in BA, OPS, RBI, H (52) and SO (8), Polanco is by far the most deserving contestant to start in the mid-summer classic.

Shortstops

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14:  Jed Lowrie #12 of the Boston Red Sox throws out Derek Jeter (not pictured) of the New York Yankees in the third inning on May 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    American League: Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox

    Statistics: .327 BA, 16 RBI, 3 HR, .864 OPS

    Flying under the radar for the better part of his four-year career, Lowrie has batted his way towards respectability thus far in his 2011 campaign.

    Leading all AL shortstops in BA, SLG (.500) and OPS (.864), Lowrie carries a very respectable résumé into the bulk of the 2011 season.

     

    National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

    Statistics: .261 BA, 24 RBI, 10 HR, .884 OPS

    Offensively, teams have yet to solve Tulowitzki's arsenal of production. Defensively, teams can't seem to put the ball past him.

    This season, Tulowitzki has put together one of the most deserving résumés to start at shortstop for the National League, and he will showcase his talent with both the bat and the glove.

Left Field

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 21: Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a two-run home run against the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium on April 21, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    American League: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

    Statistics: .293 BA, 23 RBI, 3 HR, .825 OPS

    Carl Crawford hasn't lived up to the hype engulfing him before the start of the season, leaving space for a plethora of worthy candidates available to start for the American League.

    Josh Willingham, David Murphy, Ryan Raburn and Luke Scott all present modest cases, but Gordon clearly has the most put-together résumé.

    Leading all AL left fielders in OPS, OBP (.349), SLG (.468) and RBI, Gordon looks to be the favorite heading into the mid-summer classic.

     

    National League: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

    Statistics: .394 BA, 28 RBI, 5 HR, 1.090 OPS

    The Cardinals have quickly defied their critics by jumping out to a hot start, in part due to Holliday's exceptional production.

    Among all NL left fielders, Holliday has the best BA, OBP (.476), SLG (.614) and OPS.

    Whether you believe it or not, Holliday can rake as well as anyone else in the game today.

Center Field

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on April 3, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    American League: Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees

    Statistics: .280 BA, 26 RBI, 12 HR, .980 OPS

    A league filled with many feasible candidates, Granderson clearly takes the cake when it comes to driving in runs with a big bat and speedy legs.

    To this point in the season, Granderson leads all AL center fielders in OPS, SLG (.622), RBI, HR and R (26).

    If he keeps this pace up, we might be talking MVP once the season ends.

     

    National League: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Statistics: .336 BA, 25 RBI, 7 HR, .958 OPS

    After a disappointing 2010 season, Kemp quickly developed one of the most complete offensive résumés in all of baseball.

    Leading all NL center fielders in BA, OBP (.421), SLG (.537), OPS, RBI and H (50), Kemp separates himself from the competition with relative ease.

Right Field

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    SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 13:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds the bases after hitting a three run homer in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on April 13, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    American League: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

    Statistics: .358 BA, 23 RBI, 13 HR, 1.315 OPS

    After hitting a MLB-high 54 home runs last season, Bautista once again leads the majors with the long ball.

    Not only that, Bautista also leads all AL right fielders in OPS, SLG (.798), OBP (.517), BB (35) and is just .002 points behind Matt Joyce for the league-lead in BA.

     

    National League: Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals

    Statistics: .342 BA, 33 RBI, 10 HR, 1.104 OPS

    As awkward as it might sound, Lance Berkman should (and will) be starting in right field for the National League in the mid-summer classic.

    How is this possible?

    Berkman leads virtually every offensive category among NL right fielders, and—for the most part—has been a reliable defender for the Cardinals to this point in the season.

Designated Hitter

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    SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 08:  Travis Hafner #48 of the Cleveland Indians watches his three-run homerun in the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners during the Mariners' home opener at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Gr
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    American League: Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians

    Statistics: .340 BA, 16 RBI, 5 HR, .932 OPS

    Hafner has never been known for his impressive batting average, but his 2011 season may well in fact prove to be his "breakout" year.

    Leading all designated hitters in OPS, SLG (.528) and OBP (.403), Hafner isn't the clear-cut favorite. However, he presents a case that may be too good to pass up.

Starting Pitchers

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MAY 10:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on May 10, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    American League: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels

    Statistics: 6-3. 2.26 ERA, 61 SO, 0.94 WHIP

    This is unquestionably the most difficult selection featured on our list.

    After beginning his 2011 campaign in historic fashion, Weaver has seen his impressive ERA slip ever so slightly. However, that should not take away from what he's accomplished thus far.

    Weaver is essentially ranked in the top five of every pitching category amongst American League starters, and he has the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.3:1) of all pitchers.

     

    National League: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

    Statistics: 5-2, 2.05 ERA, 66 SO, 0.96 WHIP

    Although Josh Johnson, Jair Jurrjens and Tim Lincecum all maintain impressive statistics, "Doc" Halladay remains the most accomplished pitcher in the league today.

    The best strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.3:1) of all MLB starters, Halladay has both the statistics and reputable performances to stake his claim as the most worthy starter for the National League in the mid-summer classic.

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