2011 MLB All-Star Game: Who Should Make It to the Desert and Why
Fan voting never ceases to amaze me. While I partake in the process myself, voting for every Phillie that I can, it still erodes the accomplishments of some of the players that deserve to be there. After all, the debate heading into each and every Major League Baseball All-Star game revolves around who was snubbed.
This year, I decided to take a stab at selecting the entire 2011 All-Star Game roster as if I were the manager for both the American and National Leagues.
In this report, I will establish the one golden rule that will satisfy any request as to why I selected each player.
Consider this a dedication to my love for the best sport in the world.
American League Starting Lineup
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston Red Sox)
Ellsbury leads the American League with 24 steals and is hitting .312 with 36 RBI.
2. SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland Indians)
The centerpiece of the Indians' surprising resurgence in 2011 is batting .296.
3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez (Boston Red Sox)
The major league leader in RBI with 67, six better than the next guy.
4. LF Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
Knocking the skin off the baseball, tied with two others for most HR in all of MLB.
5. 2B Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
The best second baseman this generation has seen.
6. RF Curtis Granderson (New York Yankees)
Tied for the most HR across the bigs with 21 dingers.
7. 3B Kevin Youkilis (Boston Red Sox)
Fifty-two RBI in what has been a quiet year for Youkilis.
8. C Alex Avila (Detroit Tigers)
Hitting .305 with nine HR and 41 RBI, best among all catchers.
9. DH Johnny Damon (Tampa Bay Rays)
Fell off the map in Detroit but reviving his career with the Rays while keeping them in the hunt.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
The best arm in baseball belongs to Verlander, as his incredible numbers can't even justify how great he has been this year.
American League Pitching Staff
Brandon League (Seattle Mariners)
American League leader in saves with 20.
Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees)
Second in saves but first in ERA among full-time closers.
Chris Perez (Cleveland Indians)
Singing opposing hitters a lullaby with his nasty late-inning stuff.
Jordan Walden (Los Angeles Angels)
Thirty-eight K in 32 appearances with 17 saves, tied for third in the league.
Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels)
2.01 ERA is second-best in the league among full-time starters.
Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox)
Leads the American League in ERA for an every fifth day tosser.
David Price (Tampa Bay Rays)
7-6 record doesn't justify how dominant he has been.
Dan Haren (Los Angeles Angels)
6-5 with a 2.96 ERA and one K for every hit allowed.
Trevor Cahill (Oakland Athletics)
Reality has begun to sink in, but he gets in as the lone Athletic with a 7-5 record.
Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers)
An overpowering flamethrower who has settled in with a 9-2 record.
CC Sabathia (New York Yankees)
Has bounced back to a 9-4 record after some tough-luck starts early on.
James Shields (Tampa Bay Rays)
2.40 ERA to go along with his 108 K in 112.2 IP.
Jon Lester (Boston Red Sox)
Ninety-five K in 97.1 IP to go along with his 9-3 record for the best squad in the American League.
American League Reserves
OF Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers)
Despite missing time, Cruz has 15 HR with 38 RBI.
OF Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles)
Has been the most consistent Oriole thus far and is hitting .297.
OF Michael Cuddyer (Minnesota Twins)
Leads the ragtag bunch of hitters for the Twins overall.
OF Melky Cabrera (Kansas City Royals)
Eyeing a 20/20 campaign in what is turning out to be a career-saving season.
3B Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers)
Still stout enough to be a threat at the plate—the glue for the Rangers.
3B Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
Forty-four RBI, which is 14th in the AL but still in a down year.
INF Michael Young (Texas Rangers)
Distractions haven't been a problem as Young continues to dominate at the plate.
SS Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers)
Second in the AL with 21 stolen bags.
1B Paul Konerko (Chicago White Sox)
The humble giant is fourth in the league in HR.
1B Mark Teixeira (New York Yankees)
Tied for the league lead with 21 HR.
C Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians)
The slugging catcher already has 10 HR.
National League Starting Lineup
1. SS Jose Reyes (New York Mets)
The best hitter in the NL this year, batting .341.
2. 2B Rickie Weeks (Milwaukee Brewers)
Batting .288 with 14 jacks on the year.
3. CF Mike Stanton (Florida Marlins)
The epitome of a power hitter with 16 HR on the year—would be more if he played elsewhere.
4. 1B Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers)
Tied for the league lead in home runs with 20.
5. LF Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
The favorite to vie for a Triple Crown in 2011, assuming Reyes' batting average comes back to earth.
6. C Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves)
The best-hitting catcher in the game.
7. RF Jay Bruce (Cincinnati Reds)
The dark horse to win the National League MVP.
8. 3B Placido Polanco (Philadelphia Phillies)
Thirty-eight RBI to go along with a .295 batting average.
9. SP Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)
Leads the league in K and CG and tied as the leader with nine wins.
National League Pitching Staff
Jonny Venters (Atlanta Braves)
Forty-nine K in 45.1 IP is enough to state his case.
Brian Wilson (San Francisco Giants)
Despite missing the start of the season, still second in the NL in saves.
Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves)
Tied with Brian Wilson in saves but more importantly has 58 K in 37 IP.
Mike Adams (San Diego Padres)
Has allowed just five ER in 32 appearances.
Joel Hanrahan (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Perfect in SVO thus far, has been what the Buccos have needed to close out ball games in 2011.
Tyler Clippard (Washington Nationals)
The Nats' "Mr. Do Everything Man" has a 1.94 ERA and 53 K in 41.2 IP.
Heath Bell (San Diego Padres)
Still as dominant as ever with 18 saves and a 2.79 ERA.
Ian Kennedy (Arizona Diamondbacks)
His 7-2 record and 2.98 ERA are one reason the D-Backs are in the NL West hunt.
Daniel Hudson (Arizona Diamondbacks)
His 8-5 mark and 3.56 ERA are another reason the D-Backs are in the NL West hunt.
Jaime Garcia (St. Louis Cardinals)
Just 6-2 due to some tough decisions, but his 3.19 ERA is near elite.
Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies)
Second in the NL in strikeouts, plus stands in with seven wins.
Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta Braves)
Early Cy Young candidate with a 9-3 record and a 2.11 ERA.
Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee Brewers)
Continues to stymie opposing hitters and keep the ball in the park.
Cole Hamels (Philadelphia Phillies)
9-3 with a 2.51 ERA and 103 K in 104 IP.
Anibal Sanchez (Florida Marlins)
6-1 with a 2.90 ERA and 101 K in 99.1 IP.
National League Reserves
OF Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Third in the National League with 57 RBI.
OF Matt Holliday (St. Louis Cardinals)
Missed enough time to possibly be a snub, but he continues to spank the ball.
OF Hunter Pence (Houston Astros)
Pence is one of the most unheralded hitters and defenders in the game.
OF/1B Lance Berkman (St. Louis Cardinals)
Seeing more production than expected in the first half of the season.
INF Neil Walker (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Walker has been the grease for the Pirates' wheels this year.
SS Starlin Castro (Chicago Cubs)
The youngster continues to hit the ball hard, coming in second in hits behind Jose Reyes thus far.
SS Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado Rockies)
Hitting .278 with 49 RBI and 13 HR.
2B Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati Reds)
His defensive prowess makes up for his lackluster batting average.
1B Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)
Homer numbers are down, but he is second in the NL in RBI.
1B Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
Has just nine HR but is hitting .323.
C Miguel Montero (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Has come out of nowhere to hit .279 with eight HR and 37 RBI.