Chase Field in Arizona, the host of the 2011 MLB All-Star Game
There is always a lot of discussion leading up to the All-Star Game about who should start in baseball's "Midsummer Classic." However, most of the time the fans get it wrong. Although I understand that voting for the All-Star Game starters shows which players the fans want to see, the votes should go toward the players who have played the best and have put the best numbers through the first half of the baseball season.
As of May 23rd, here are (who I believe) should be the men starting in this July's showcase.
2011 Stats: .342 BA, 9 HR, 41 RBI, .391 OBP
Last Week: .481 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .500 OBP
Adrian has been one of, if not, the best acquisition by a team this past offseason. Acquired from San Diego for a slew of top notch minor leaguers, Adrian has done nothing but rake for the Red Sox so far.
After a power-deficient April, Adrian has found his power stroke at Fenway as he has hit eight home runs so far in the month of May. He is currently fourth in the majors in batting average and leads the majors in RBI.
Runner-up: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
2011 Stats: .335 BA, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .458 OBP
Last Week: .280 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .379 OBP
Last year's National League MVP has not slowed down from his tremendous season a year ago. Votto is currently third in the NL in batting average and first in runs scored and walks. Votto continues to be the dominant threat in the Reds lineup as he is in line for his second career All-Star appearance.
Runner-up: Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins
2011 Stats: .260 BA, 8 HR, 28 RBI, .349 OBP
Last Week: .087 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .222 OBP
Despite struggling last week against the likes of the New York Yankees and the Florida Marlins, Zobrist has been the most efficient second baseman in the American League so far in 2011. A flexible player who has hit anywhere in Tampa's lineup from first to seventh so far this year as well as being capable to play almost anywhere on the field.
However, if he doesn't rebound soon, the Angels Howie Kendrick could replace him.
Runner-up: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2011 Stats: .317 BA, 5 HR, 27 RBI, .374 OBP
Last Week: .280 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .379 OBP
Much like his teammate Joey Votto, Phillips is also looking for his second consecutive All-Star appearance. So far in 2011, Phillips is on pace to put up the highest batting average in his career, which is 29 points higher than his previous highest of .288 in 2007.
Despite the fact that his home run and stolen base numbers are down, Phillips has still continued to produce for the Reds who are in the thick of a competitive race in the NL Central.
Runner-up: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates
2011 Stats: .302 BA, 9 HR, 32 RBI, .363 OBP
Last Week: .379 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .419 OBP
Who would have thought that Asdrubal Cabrera would have a chance to be an All-Star, let alone the starter? Even though Derek Jeter will most likely end up being the starter come July, due to his chase for 3,000 hits and the fact that the average fan has absolutely no clue who Cabrera is, Cabrera is by far the most deserving player to start.
Cabrera went 5-for-5 yesterday with two homers and five RBI, helping complete a sweep of the Indians inter-state rivals the Reds. Cabrera is currently sixth in the AL in home runs, fifth in RBI and third in runs scored. Cabrera has already set a career high in home runs and is almost halfway to breaking his career high in RBI, a far cry from what the likes of Derek Jeter is putting up so far in 2011.
Runner-up: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
2011 Stats: .310 BA, 1 HR, 15 RBI, .362 OBP
Last Week: .308 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .379 OBP
Jose Reyes continues to prove how amazing he can be when he is healthy. He is one of the most electrifying players in all of baseball and is most likely the games most dynamic leadoff hitter. He has immense speed, defensive ability and despite his one home run, can also make you pay if you leave a ball up in the zone.
Reyes already has 17 stolen bases in 2011, which leads the National League. Reyes looks to be back into his 2006 form when he was the National League's Silver Slugger winner for shortstop and is on pace for to set a career high in batting average. Unfortunately for Mets fans, due to his contract being up at the end of the year and the Mets financial struggles, Reyes will most likely be wearing another uniform by the end of the year, possibly even before the All-Star Game.
Runner-up: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
2011 Stats: .281 BA, 8 HR, 32 RBI, .415 OBP
Last Week: .500, 1 HR, 7 RBI, .593 OBP
The man aptly named "The Greek God of Walks" was hitting only .241 as of May 11th and has since seen his batting average jump forty points in 11 days. Youkilis seems to be getting back in the swings of things as he gets more comfortable at third base since the Red Sox acquired another possible All-Star in Adrian Gonzalez this winter.
Youk is currently in the top 10 in the American League in RBI, runs scored, walks, slugging percentage and OPS as he looks to make his third career All-Star appearance.
Runner-up: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
2011 Stats: .335 BA, 2 HR, 25 RBI, .374 OBP
Last Week: .304 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .292 OBP
Surprisingly, Placido Polanco has been the most consistent force in the Phillies lineup so far in 2011. Polanco is currently hitting 31 points over his career average and is on pace to set a career high in RBI.
Polanco is currently fourth in National League in batting average and could win his first Silver Slugger award since 2007 when he was with Detroit. Polanco is also looking for his second career All-Star appearance.
Runner-up: David Wright, New York Mets
2011 Stats: .271 BA, 8 HR, 24 RBI, .373 OBP
Last Week: .409 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .458 OBP
Russell Martin has been quite the revelation for the Yankees so far in 2011. After getting off to a torrid start, Martin found himself in a slump for the last few weeks and has seemed to work his way out of it by hitting over .400 in the last seven days.
Martin seems to have found his old swing from his early days in Los Angeles, as he's on pace for his highest batting average since 2008, RBI total since 2007 and to set a career high in home runs. Martin is set to make his third career All-Star appearance and his first start since '08.
Runner-up: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
2011 Stats: .333 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, .380 OBP
Last Week: .565 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .615 OBP
The youngest of the Molina brothers has gotten off to a fantastic start so far in 2011. Yadier is currently fifth in the National League in batting average and is on pace to set a career high in that mark.
Yadier is also well on his way to set career highs in home runs and RBI as well as hits. This would be Molina's third consecutive All-Star appearance as well as his third consecutive start.
Runner-up: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2011 Stats: .353 BA, 18 HR, 31 RBI, .500 OBP
Last Week: .273 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .385 OBP
It looks as if Jose Bautista is following up a spectacular performance in 2010 with an even better encore performance in 2011. Bautista currently leads the American League in home runs, runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OBP. He is also second in batting average and seventh in RBI.
Bautista has slowed turned himself into the games best power hitter and has vastly improved his ability to hit for average as he currently set to shatter his current career high in batting average by 97 points. Bautista is also on pace to become baseball's first player to hit 60-plus home runs in a season since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa did it a decade ago. Bautista is looking to make his second consecutive All-Star appearance and his first career start.
2011 Stats: .263 BA, 16 HR, 34 RBI, .328 OBP
Last Week: .188 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBI, .212 OBP
After a shaky first season in the Bronx, Curtis Granderson has seemed to find his groove under the bright lights of New York City and is beginning to thrive. After hitting a measly .247 last year and struggling immensely against left-handed pitching, Granderson has turned it around in 2011.
Granderson has hit eight home runs against lefties so far this year; the previous high for home runs by Granderson against lefties was five. Curtis is currently second in the AL homers, fourth in RBI, third in runs scored and slugging percentage and sixth in OPS. He is also set to shatter his previous career highs in home runs and RBI.
He is on pace for his second career All-Star appearance and first career start, as well as an exciting race with the Blue Jays Jose Bautista for the home run crown.
2011 Stats: .295 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI, .348 OBP
Last Week: .269 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .321 OBP
Yeah, you read this right, Jacoby Ellsbury starting in the All-Star Game. With Ellsbury healthy and back in the Boston lineup, after a slow start, the Red Sox are back to their dominant winning ways. With Ellsbury continuing to light up the base paths with 15 stolen bases so far in 2011, which is tops in the American League, he is also back hitting for a high average similar to his numbers in 2008 and 2009.
Ellsbury is also on track to set a career high in hits, home runs and RBI. Ellsbury could be making his first All-Star appearance and start in Arizona come July.
Runner-up: Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays
2011 Stats: .299 BA, 12 HR, 37 RBI, .390 OBP
Last Week: .250 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .344 OBP
The man known as the "Hebrew Hammer" is off to a spectacular start for the Brewers in 2011. The 2007 Rookie of the Year and three-time Silver Slugger award winner is currently first in the National League in home runs and RBI, second in runs scored and slugging percentage, fourth in OPS, seventh in walks and ninth in stolen bases.
Already a three-time All-Star starter, Braun is on pace to set career highs in home runs and RBI as well as triples and stolen bases. This would be Braun's fourth consecutive All-Star start and appearance.
2011 Stats: .316 BA, 10 HR, 32 RBI, .399 OBP
Last Week: .240 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .286 OBP
Although the Dodgers have struggled on the field with their recently financial struggles, it a surely not slowed down Matt Kemp. Kemp has done nothing but rake for the Dodgers as he is currently in the top 10 in the National League in batting average, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, slugging percentage and OPS.
Kemp has flown under the radar so far this after being overshadowed by his teammate Andre Ethier and his 30-game hit streak. Kemp is on pace to set career highs in home runs, RBI, stolen bases and hits. Kemp is set to make his first All-Star appearance and start.
2011 Stats: .338 BA, 11 HR, 35 RBI, .451 OBP
Last Week: .222 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .588 OBP
Lance Berkman has had somewhat of a career renaissance a quarter of the way through the 2011 season. After a miserable 2010 campaign split between the Astros and Yankees, Berkman only totaled a .248 average with 14 homers and 58 RBI.
However, it seems that a strong postseason in New York seemed to provide all the spark Berkman needed. The 35-year-old is on pace for his highest home run and RBI total since 2006 and hit total since 2008. Berkman is also tops in the National League in slugging percentage and OPS as well as second in batting average and home runs.
Berkman is set to make his sixth career All-Star appearance and his first start since 2008.
Runner-up: Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds
2011 Stats: .339 BA, 2 HR, 31 RBI, .381 OBP
Last Week: .318 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .423 OBP
Despite yet another positional move, Michael Young continues to produce at a high level for the Texas Rangers. Despite rumblings that Young wanted a trade from the Rangers this spring after Texas signed third baseman Adrian Beltre this offseason forcing Young to make yet another positional switch, Young has settled in and produced as usual for Texas.
Young is currently fourth in American League in batting average and seventh in RBI. At the age of 34, Young is on pace to set career highs in RBI and batting average. The 2006 All-Star Game MVP is on pace to appear in his seventh career All-Star Game and make his second career start, his first since 2009.
Runner-up: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
2011 Stats: .268 BA, 7 HR, 20 RBI, .353 OBP
Last Week: .185 BA, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .241 OBP
With the new rule that both leagues with use a DH regardless of the league who hosts the All-Star Game, a spot for the Reds young outfielder Drew Stubbs is open. Stubbs, a speedster with a power atop the Reds lineup, has been great for the Reds so far in 2011 and is only going to improve as the years go along.
Stubbs is on pace to hit 24 home runs, drive in 69 runs and steal 48 bases for the Reds in 2011. He is also second in the National League in runs scored and third in stolen bases. Stubbs is looking to make his first All-Star Game appearance and start in 2011.
Runner-up: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
2011 Stats: 5-2, 2.00 ERA, 73 K's, 0.93 WHIP
Last Week: 1-1, 1.69 ERA, 22 K's, 0.81 WHIP
With the departure of Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs, "Big Game James" Shields has stepped up in a tremendous way as the predominant right-handed starter in the Rays rotation. With big names like Garza, Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena no longer in Tampa, Shields has stepped up and been a key factor for why the Rays are currently tied atop the American League East.
Shields is currently first in the American League in complete games, second in innings pitched and strikeouts and seventh in wins. Shields also on pace to set career highs in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts, as well as a career low in ERA. Shields is looking to make his first career All-Star appearance and start.
Runner-up: Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2011 Stats: 6-3, 2.21 ERA, 80 K's, 0.98 WHIP
Last Week: 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 7 K's, 0.88 WHIP
No real surprise here as Roy Halladay continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball. The headlining act in the Phillies star-studded rotation is tops in the National League in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and complete games.
The 34-year-old righty is also on pace to win 20-plus games for the third time in his career as well as post a sub-three ERA for the sixth time. He is also on pace to set career highs in innings pitched and strikeouts. Halladay is looking to make his eighth career All-Star appearance and his second career start.
Runner-up: Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers