The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game, being held on Tuesday July 10th at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, is less than one week away. Fan voting ended at midnight on June 28th but each season, there’s always some curiosity on whether some of the players chosen, are truly the most deserving of making the team. Here is one writer’s take on which hitters should comprise each team’s starting lineup and the top five starting pitchers and top reliever for each roster:
National League – Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
American League- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Carlos Ruiz is having a remarkable season behind the plate for Philadelphia. He’s currently 5th in the NL in OPS and 3rd in batting average. Ruiz is also among the league leaders in fielding percentage for catchers. Joe Mauer leads American League catchers with a .863 OPS and is tops in MLB, among catchers, in hits and runs scored.
National League – Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
American League- Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox
Joey Votto is a no-brainer here. Votto is the runaway winner of this writer’s unofficial NL MVP award through the 1st half of this season. Votto leads MLB in OPS by a sizable margin. Paul Konerko has a .962 OPS and is 2nd in the AL in batting average. Konerko has formed one-half of quite the power duo on the south side of Chicago, along with fellow veteran slugger, Adam Dunn.
National League – Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
American League- Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
The diminutive, 22 year old broke into the majors with Houston last season and hit .276 in 57 games. This season, he’s leading the senior circuit in batting average among second basemen and providing the Astros with some much needed excitement in the lineup. Robinson Cano leads all second basemen in OPS, Homeruns and is tied for the lead in RBI.
National League – David Wright, New York Mets
American League- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
David Wright is enjoying an excellent 2012 season. Fortunately for the veteran Met, it’s coming in a contract year. Wright has been head and shoulders above all major league third basemen in performance. Wright currently has over a 1.000 OPS while only one other major league 3rd baseman is over .900. Miguel Cabrera is at it again, pulverizing the ball and leading all MLB third basemen in Homeruns.
National League – Jed Lowrie, Houston Astros
American League- Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Forming the other half of Houston’s dazzling middle infield duo is former Red Sox, Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is finally getting the chance for regular at bats and he’s making the most of it. Lowrie is tops in the NL in OPS among shortstops and he leads all MLB shortstops in Homers. Derek Jeter is 3rd in the American League in batting average and the future Hall of Famer has helped push the Yankees to 1st place in the American League East.
National League – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies; Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
American League- Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers; Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees; Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Hamilton should be the leading vote getter here and is this writer’s AL’s runaway winner of the unofficial 1st half MVP award. Granderson has anchored the Yankees potent lineup with 23 Homeruns and is 2nd among AL outfielders with 55 runs. Adam Jones has finally hit his stride in his breakthrough 2012 season. His powerful hitting has the Orioles in contention in the AL East.
Ryan Braun leads the National League in homeruns and Carlos Beltran is 2nd, among National League outfielders, in Homeruns. Both veterans are hitting over .300 and have over 55 RBI, powering their respective NL Central clubs. Carlos Gonzalez has been a monster at Coors Field, while posting solid numbers on the road as well. Gonzalez leads all eligible NL outfielders in runs scored.
National League – Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
American League- Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Matt Cain’s perfect game helped the rest of the country discover what San Francisco fans, and many baseball insiders, already knew: Matt Cain is one of the best pitchers in the game. Cain is off to a dominating start in 2012 with by far his highest strikeouts per nine innings rate of his career. He’s emerged as the ace of the Giants staff. Justin Verlander is, incredibly, having a better start to the 2012 season than he had in 2011. Though, unless the Tigers get hot, he may be impacted in the Wins column by the team’s inconsistent hitting. Verlander is dominating once again, leading the majors in innings pitched and strikeouts.
Top Four Starting Pitchers
National League – Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; R.A. Dickey, New York Mets; James McDonald, Pittsburgh Pirates
American League- C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels; Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox; David Price, Tampa Bay Rays; Jason Hammel, Baltimore Orioles
Top Relief Pitcher
National League – Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
American League- Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
The Cuban sensation has energized baseball in Cincinnati, helping to steady the closer role in the Reds’ rotation. Chapman has an incredible .78 WHIP with a filthy 66 strikeouts. He leads all relievers in K’s. Jim Johnson has been a revelation in the closer role for Baltimore. He’s 23 for 24 in save attempts and has allowed a mere five runs in 34.2 innings pitched.