MLB All-Star Game: What the Complete Rosters Should Look Like
Ever since the 2002 MLB All-Star Game debacle, rules have been put in place that make no sense, like linking the outcome of the game to the ever-important home field advantage in the World Series.
Additional rules have been added years later like bumping the roster size up to 34, using a DH in every single game, and pitchers who started on Sunday cannot be used during the All-Star Game.
While the MLB All-Star Game has lost a lot of credibility, it's still an incredible event recognizing those have had a brilliant (first half of the) season.
Here is what the complete 34-man rosters for the American and National League should look like. The Red Sox and Yankees will obviously push some deserving people off unfortunately (i.e. Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia) due to popularity, and it's a shame. The game should be based on a meritocracy, not popularity.
AL Catcher: Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
Catcher is a weak position in the American League this year, but Alex Avila has clearly been the best in the American League.
Stats: .299 avg, 10 HR, 46 RBI, .900 OPS .379 CS%
Reserve: Matt Wieters, Baltimore (.259 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI, .710 OPS, .429 CS%)
Apologies to: AJ Pierzynski, Chicago (.299 avg, 3 HR, 28 RBI, .727 OPS, .200 CS%)
Wieters should get the nod over Pierzynski because catcher is primarily a defensive position and Wieters has demonstrated that he's been the best at throwing people out this year, while Pierzynski has been the worst.
Russell Martin does NOT deserve to be in this game. While he did have a hot start, he's cooled down massively and only batting .230.
NL Catcher: Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
Catcher is also a weak position in the National League, and Brian McCann is the cream of the crop in the league.
Stats: .311 avg, 14 HR, 47 RBI, .907 OPS, .208 CS%
Reserve: Miguel Montero, Arizona (.273 avg, 9 HR, 40 RBI, .808 OPS, .294 CS%)
Apologies to: Yadier Molina, St. Louis (.280 avg, 4 HR, 30 RBI, .734 OPS, .270 CS%)
Montero is having a slightly better offensive season than Molina, and surprisingly has let fewer people swipe bases than Molina.
AL First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
Adrian Gonzalez is currently the MVP favorite in the American League, and going from Petco to Fenway obviously will make an already great hitter even better.
Stats: .349 avg, 16 HR, 73 RBI, .995 OPS
Apologies to: Mark Teixeira, New York (.244 avg, 25 HR, 65 RBI, .897 OPS)
Cabrera and Konerko should obviously be shoo-ins as reserves. Lind is having a repeat of his magical 2009 season, when he was snubbed as an All-Star.
Teixeira will probably get the nod over Lind because of his high RBI-total, but that low .244 mark is just too low to ignore. He does not deserve to go to Arizona.
NL First Base: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
With Pujols slumping early in combination with his injury, it opened the door for somebody else to start at first base, and it should clearly be Fielder, who is having an MVP-type first half.
Stats: .298 avg, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 1.004 OPS
Votto is putting up great numbers yet again, while Morse has been a key in the Nationals' surprisingly not awful season. Howard continues to be an RBI machine, and unlike Teixeira, can keep his average above the .250 mark.
AL Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Second base is another weak position and Cano has been putting up the best numbers at the position in the American League.
Stats: .292 avg, 14 HR, 52 RBI, .847 OPS, 6 SB
Reserve: Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles (.307 avg, 8 HR, 26 RBI, .842 OPS, 8 SB)
Apologies to: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay (.263 avg, 9 HR, 40 RBI, .815 OPS, 7 SB)
Kendrick has continually been an underrated second baseman in baseball, and should get an All-Star nod. Zobrist, whose been there before, continues to put up nice power-speed numbers, but Kendrick has been slightly better.
Dustin Pedroia is having an off-year, and does not deserve to be in the All-Star conversation, even though he'll make the team.
NL Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
There are two premiere second basemen in the National League and either of them is deserving and capable of starting, based on both their offense and defense.
Stats: .300 avg, 8 HR, 45 RBI, .785 OPS, 4 SB
Reserve: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee (.280 avg, 14 HR, 33 RBI, .828 OPS, 7 SB)
Apologies to: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh (.248 avg, 8 HR, 51 RBI, .701 OPS)
Walker got off to a sizzling start, but has since fizzled. His high RBI total doesn't offset his low numbers in the other categories. Weeks will likely start and he's definitely deserving of the All-Star nod.
AL Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
Asdrubal Cabrera has been critical in the surprising Indians' ability to battle the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central.
Stats: .295 avg, 14 HR, 49 RBI, .850 OPS, 12 SB
Reserve: Jhonny Peralta, Detroit (.312 avg, 13 HR, 47 RBI, .892 OPS)
Apologies to: Alexei Ramirez, Chicago (.281 avg, 8 HR, 38 RBI, .763 OPS)
Yunel Escobar, Toronto (.289 avg, 9 HR, 29 RBI, .802 OPS)
Unfortunately, Derek Jeter will win the starting nod, despite him being statistically one of the worst shortstops in baseball on both ends. Cabrera or Peralta either should be deserving of the starting nod.
NL Shortstop: Jose Reyes, New York Mets
If Jose Reyes doesn't win the starting nod, it just proves how asinine the voting process is, as he's been one of the three best players in baseball this year. He already has 15 triples through 79 games.
Stats: .352 avg, 3 HR, 32 RBI, .924 OPS, 30 SB
Reserves: Starlin Castro, Chicago (.310 avg, 2 HR, 37 RBI, .770 OPS, 10 SB)
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (.271 avg, 16 HR, 55 RBI, .835 OPS, 6 SB)
Apologies to: Stephen Drew, Arizona (.266 avg, 5 HR, 44 RBI, .754 OPS, 4 SB)
Castro is about the only thing going well for the Cubs right now. Tulowitzki started slow, but has been on an RBI-tear recently and he should be a reserve. Drew continues to be underrated and should win a Gold Glove.
AL Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez has sure looked good recently, and he's been the best in a weak position in the American League.
Stats: .301 avg, 13 HR, 52 RBI, .886 OPS, 4 SB
Reserve: Kevin Youkilis, Boston (.265 avg, 11 HR, 55 RBI, .868 OPS)
Apologies to: Adrian Beltre, Texas (.265 avg, 14 HR, 61 RBI, .768 OPS)
Another third baseman really doesn't deserve to go to the game, but each position needs at least one reserve. Either Beltre or Youkilis should get the nod, but definitely not both.
NL Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs
While Placido Polanco started off on-fire, Ramirez has been on a late midseason tear, and has clearly surpassed Polanco as the appropriate choice to start.
Stats: .295 avg, 11 HR, 42 RBI, .812 OPS
Reserve: Placido Polanco, Philadelphia (.284 avg, 4 HR, 39 RBI, .695 OPS)
Apologies to: Ty Wigginton, Colorado (.266 avg, 13 HR, 35 RBI, .826 OPS)
Chipper Jones, Atlanta (.252 avg, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .750 OPS)
Jones leads NL third basemen in RBI, but has low numbers in the other important stats. Wigginton was an All-Star last year and has put up decent numbers in Colorado. But Polanco clearly deserves the reserve nod, even though he'll start.
AL Outfield: Bautista (Toronto), Granderson (New York) & Joyce (Tampa Bay)
Unlike the National League, the American League outfield selection is slim pickings. But there are three outfielders that have stood out in Jose Bautista, Matt Joyce, and Curtis Granderson.
Bautista stats: .330 avg, 25 HR, 54 RBI, 1.147 OPS, 5 SB
Granderson stats: .275 avg, 21 HR, 56 RBI, .938 OPS, 14 SB
Joyce stats: .307 avg, 11 HR, 40 RBI, .904 OPS, 4 SB
Reserves: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston (.300 avg, 9 HR, 40 RBI, .813 OPS, 25 SB)
Adam Jones, Baltimore (.286 avg, 13 HR, 46 RBI, .801 OPS, 6 SB)
Brennan Boesch, Detroit (.303 avg, 10 HR, 38 RBI, .838 OPS, 4 SB)
Alex Gordon, Kansas City (.293 avg, 9 HR, 44 RBI, .839 OPS, 5 SB)
Apologies to: Carlos Quentin, Chicago (.253 avg, 17 HR, 49 RBI, .847 OPS, 1 SB)
Jeff Francouer, Kansas City (.258 avg, 11 HR, 47 RBI, .746 OPS, 13 SB)
Ellsbury has already tied his career high in home runs only halfway through the season. Jones continues to be reliable for Baltimore. Boesch should have been an All-Star last year and has rebounded from his second-half collapse. And Gordon is finally living up to his potential.
Josh Hamilton should absolutely not be an All-Star and I do not understand his popularity. He has been a whiny baby all year, throwing his coach under the bus for his dumb slide and blaming his eye color for his poor hitting during the day. He'll start because of his unusual and unwarranted support base.
NL Outfield: Kemp (Los Angeles), Braun (Milwaukee) & Berkman (St. Louis)
There are many good and deserving All-Star candidates in the National League outfield. So the excess ones here should be considered for Designated Hitter (there will be no NL Designated Hitter slide following the AL one). Matt Kemp has been absolutely amazing while Ryan Braun continues to rake and Lance Berkman is enjoying a career resurgence in St. Louis.
Kemp's stats: .330 avg, 22 HR, 64 RBI, 1.035 OPS, 22 SB
Braun's stats: .321 avg, 16 HR, 61 RBI, .963 OPS, 19 SB
Berkman's stats: .296 avg, 20 HR, 58 RBI, .999 OPS
Reserves/DH: Hunter Pence, Houston (.318 avg, 9 HR, 55 RBI, .845 OPS, 4 SB)
Carlos Beltran, New York (.282 avg, 12 HR, 54 RBI, .865 OPS, 3 SB)
Justin Upton, Arizona (.300 avg, 13 HR, 43 RBI, .892 OPS, 14 SB)
Matt Holliday, St. Louis (.322 avg, 10 HR, 40 RBI, .849 OPS)
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles (.320 avg, 7 HR, 41 RBI, .849 OPS)
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (.291 avg, 12 HR, 45 RBI, .836 OPS, 13 SB)
Apologies to: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati (.267 avg, 18 HR, 51 RBI, .835 OPS, 6 SB)
Seth Smith, Colorado (.302 avg, 8 HR, 35 RBI, .876 OPS, 3 SB)
Andrew McCutchen (.280 avg, 11 HR, 41 RBI, .851 OPS, 15 SB)
Pence and Ethier both enjoyed long hitting streaks and they have been beasts. Beltran is enjoying a career boost while Upton and Holliday are having their typical expected great seasons. Gonzalez started slow, but is finally earning that huge contract he signed.
While Bruce started off hot, he has considerably cooled. Smith shows that the Colorado outfield is arguably the best and McCutchen is getting ever-closer to that All-Star bid.
AL Designated Hitter: Michael Young, Texas Rangers
Remember when the Rangers were trying to get rid of Michael Young? Turns out it would've been a huge mistake.
Stats: .317 avg, 7 HR, 54 RBI, .821 OPS
Reserves: David Ortiz, Boston (.304 avg, 17 HR, 48 RBI, .952 OPS)
Victor Martinez, Detroit (.332 avg, 6 HR, 46 RBI, .868 OPS)
Ortiz is having an amazing first-half and showing people he's not down while Martinez is doing what Detroit brought him in to do: bat well and provide protection for Miguel Cabrera.
AL Starting Pitcher: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
Maintaining a sub-2.00 ERA in the American League is ridiculous, and Jered Weaver is the only starter who is doing that. He should have been voted on in the first place last year, and not as a replacement, but he should start this year (although Justin Verlander probably will).
Stats: 9-4, 1.97 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 106 Ks
Reserves: Justin Verlander, Detroit (11-3, 2.32 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 130 Ks)
Josh Beckett, Boston (6-3, 2.20 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 80 Ks)
James Shields, Tampa Bay (8-5, 2.45 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 127 Ks)
Gio Gonzalez, Oakland (7-5, 2.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 99 Ks)
Dan Haren, Los Angeles (8-5, 2.85 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 98 Ks)
Michael Pineda, Seattle (7-5, 2.65 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 99 Ks)
Alexi Ogando, Texas (8-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 73 Ks)
Philip Humber, Chicago (7-4, 2.89 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 59 Ks)
Ricky Romero, Toronto (7-7, 2.82 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 99 Ks)
Apologies to: Justin Masterson, Cleveland (6-6, 2.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 80 Ks)
CC Sabathia, New York (11-4, 3.05 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 106 Ks)
Verlander has already thrown a no-hitter, and nearly threw two more this year. Beckett is having an amazing bounceback year. Shields leads the AL in complete games. Gonzalez utilizes his nasty curve to near-perfection. Ogando and Pineda have been major young surprises while Haren and Romero are doing what is expected of him. Humber has been the best pitcher in a shaky rotation. Masterson has been a great story.
CC Sabathia has lots of wins, but he has not been one of the ten best pitchers in the AL. He will make the team, though. His wins number is inflated by his high run support (the third highest in the American League). Sabathia is obviously an amazing pitcher, but not more deserving than the people listed ahead of him.
NL Starting Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves
The days of Jair Jurrjens being underrated are over. The guy is the only starting pitcher in the National League with a sub-2.00 ERA. He leads the National League in wins and ERA (and ERA+) and does it while being in the bottom-15 for run support. His ERA lead is by over half a run!
Stats: 11-3, 1.89 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 63 Ks
Reserves: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (10-3, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 123 Ks)
Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh (6-4, 2.65 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 55 Ks)
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia (9-4, 2.41 ERA, 0.94 ERA, 110 Ks)
Cliff Lee, Philadelphia (9-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 119 Ks)
Jordan Zimmermann, Washington (5-7, 2.63 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 71 Ks)
Kyle Lohse, St. Louis (8-4, 2.78 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 58 Ks)
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta (9-4, 2.62 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 97 Ks)
Matt Cain, San Francisco (7-4, 3.02 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 95 Ks)
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles (8-3, 2.93 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 128 Ks)
Apologies to: Hiroki Kuroda, Los Angeles (6-9, 2.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 81 Ks)
Wandy Rodriguez, Houston (6-4, 2.97 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 73 Ks)
Tim Stauffer, San Diego (4-5, 2.97 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 88 Ks)
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (6-6, 3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 122 Ks)
Halladay, Hamels, and Lee showed why people are calling Philadelphia the favorites, forming a Big 3 better than the Miami Heat. Karstens is having a spectacular, underappreciated year as is Zimmermann. Lohse is stepping up while Wainwright is injured and Hanson, Cain, and Kershaw continue to dominate. Kuroda has recently been dominating and Rodriguez continues to be underrated. Stauffer is having a nice year (with a lack of run support) and Lincecum's story is the same as Sabathia's (great pitcher, not as deserving as the aforementioned pitchers).
AL Closer: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
The greatest of all-time continues to do his thing, and might be able to achieve the all-time saves record this year.
Stats: 21/24 saves, 1.69 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
Reserve: Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay (16/18 saves, 2.20 ERA, 0.89 WHIP)
Apologies to: Chris Perez, Cleveland (19/20 saves, 2.37 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Jose Valverde, Detroit (19/19 saves, 3.09 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Brandon League, Seattle (21/24 saves, 3.48 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Farnsworth has saved the Rays bullpen, which was decimated by departures of free agents. Perez has been reliable for Cleveland, as has League for Seattle. Valverde has yet to blow a save for Detroit.
NL Closer: Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have been a pleasant surprise this season, and they boast one of the best closers.
Stats: 23/23 saves, 1.21 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
Reserve: Heath Bell, San Diego (23/24 saves, 2.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
Apologies to: Brian Wilson, San Francisco (24/28 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
While Wilson leads the NL in saves, he hasn't been Mr. Reliable, blowing four saves with an incredibly high WHIP. Bell, however, continues to be a reliable closer for the Padres.
Here's a breakdown on how many players from each team there should be (with apologies to in parentheses):
Arizona: 2 (1)
Atlanta: 3 (1)
Cincinnati: 2 (1)
Colorado: 3 (3)
Florida: 0 (1)
Houston: 1 (1)
Los Angeles: 3 (1)
New York: 2
Pittsburgh: 2 (2)
San Diego: 1 (1)
San Francisco: 1 (2)
St. Louis: 2 (1)
Chicago: 2 (3)
Cleveland: 1 (2)
Detroit: 6 (1)
Kansas City: 1
Los Angeles: 3
New York: 4 (2)
Seattle: 1 (2)
Tampa Bay: 3
Toronto: 3 (1)
The Tigers lead the pack with six deserving players. The Twins are the only team who don't have a player that's deserving of at least a mention, which is understandable as their three best players (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel) have dealt with injury.