Picking the Best of the Best…

Batting gloves? All-Stars don’t need no stinkin’ batting gloves. (Picture taken from CBSsports.com.)

With the Mid-Summer Classic quickly approaching, it only seemed right for me to give you my All-Star selections for the American and National League.

Just like the actual 35-man rosters, all 30 MLB teams will be represented in these picks.

(Stats are taken before the games of July 5, 2013.)

AMERICAN LEAGUE (italics denotes starter)

Catchers
- Joe Mauer, Twins (8 HR, .315/.397/.471, 29 RBI, .376 wOBA, 3.4 fWAR)
- Salavdor Perez, Royals (4 HR, .307/.332./.329, 35 RBI, .331 wOBA, 1.7 fWAR)
- Carlos Santana, Indians (10 HR, .266/.377/.453, 38 RBI, .360 wOBA, 1.8 fWAR)

There’s no debate here. Joe Mauer is the best of an underwhelming crop, as the league’s other top catchers like Matt Wieters are hitting too poor (.225/.282/.393, .288 wOBA) to be considered. Salvador Perez, at just 23 years old, should find himself to be a permanent fixture on this team for years to come, while Carlos Santana beat out the Astros’ Jason Castro (11 HR, .262/.326/.465, 27 RBI, .339 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR) for the final spot.

First Basemen
- Chris Davis, Orioles (32 HR, .327/.401/.722, 63 RBI, .462 wOBA, 4.6 fWAR)
- Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (23 HR, .271/.353/.536, 66 RBI, .382 wOBA, 2.6 fWAR)
- David Ortiz, Red Sox (16 HR, .319/.407/.602, 59 RBI, .417 wOBA, 2.4 fWAR)

These picks were pretty easy as well. Davis would be the league’s first half MVP if it wasn’t for some certain Triple Crown winner in Detroit, while Encarnacion has the second best wOBA among American League first basemen. Ortiz will be the team’s designated hitter.

Second Basemen
- Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (5 HR, .325/.406/.449, 49 RBI, .373 wOBA, 3.5 fWAR)
- Robinson Cano, Yankees (20 HR, .295/.371/.534, 57 RBI, .379 wOBA, 2.9 fWAR)
- Jason Kipnis, Indians (13 HR, .301/.386/.535, 54 RBI, .393 wOBA, 3.4 fWAR)
- Howie Kendrick, Angels (9 HR, .318/.361/.466, 38 RBI, .355 wOBA, 2.2 fWAR)

Pretty impressive group here, and that doesn’t include someone like the Tigers’ Omar Infante (6 HR, .309/.340/.447, 27 RBI, .339 wOBA, 2.4 fWAR). The top three guys have a legitimate argument to start, but I’ll go with Pedroia because he’s been much better with the glove than his two counterparts.

Shortstops
- Jhonny Peralta, Tigers (7 HR, .307/.366/.450, 38 RBI, .354 wOBA, 2.5 fWAR)

Peralta is the only one who deserves a spot here.

Third Basemen
- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (26 HR, .364/.454/.670, 85 RBI, .470 wOBA, 5.4 fWAR)
- Evan Longoria, Rays (17 HR, .294/.365/.537, 48 RBI, .383 wOBA, 4.4 fWAR)
- Manny Machado, Orioles (6 HR, .319/.349/.481, 42 RBI, .359 wOBA, 4.2 fWAR)
- Josh Donaldson, A’s (14 HR, .314/.382/.526, 55 RBI, .390 wOBA, 3.8 fWAR)

Unlike shortstop, the third base position in the AL is loaded, and because of this, I’m going to break the rules and use Machado as a shortstop behind Peralta. The other three choices should be set in stone, while guys like the Rangers’ Adrian beltre (16 HR, .304/.343/.506, 44 RBI, .365 wOBA, 2.4 fWAR) and the Mariners’ Kyle Seager (12 HR, .281/.339/.468, 38 RBI, .350 wOBA, 3.0 fWAR) make the team almost any other year.

Outfielders
- Mike Trout, Angels (13 HR, .314/.389/.537, 55 RBI, .395 wOBA, 4.7 fWAR)
- Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (19 HR, .261/.360/.505, 50 RBI, .372 wOBA, 3.5 fWAR)
- Nelson Cruz, Rangers (20 HR, .269/.328/.516, 61 RBI, .360 wOBA, 1.0 fWAR)
- Alex Gordon, Royals (8 HR, .292/.351/.426, 46 RBI, .338 wOBA, 2.2 fWAR)
- Adam Jones, Orioles (15 HR, .291/.315/.478, 59 RBI, .340 wOBA, 1.5 fWAR)
- Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (2 HR, .303/.367/.417, 30 RBI, .343 wOBA, 3.1 fWAR)
- Brett Gardner, Yankees (7 HR, .281/.341/.441, 31 RBI, .340 wOBA, 2.7 fWAR)

Trout and Joey Bats are set in stone, but the third outfielder spot is still up in the air. Nelson Cruz is my pick to start, as his bat overshadows the other choices. The biggest snub here would be the Athletics’ Coco Crisp (9 HR, .269/.356/.442, 30 RBI, .346 wOBA, 1.7 fWAR), as his offensive numbers are rival Ellsbury’s and Gardner’s, but his defensive and base running numbers fall behind.

Pitchers
- Max Scherzer, Tigers (13-0, 3.09 ERA, 116.2 IP, 0.917 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 5.35 K/BB)
- Felix Hernandez, Mariners (8-4, 2.69 ERA, 123.2 IP, 1.108 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 5.42 K/BB)
- Yu Darvish, Rangers (8-3, 2.78 ERA, 113.1 IP, 1.015 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 4.08 K/BB)
- Chris Sale, White Sox (5-7, 2.79 ERA, 106.1 IP, 0.959 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 4.75 K/BB)
- Bartolo Colon, A’s (11-3, 2.78 ERA, 113.1 IP, 1.103 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 4.36 K/BB)
- Derek Holland, Rangers (6-4, 3.14 ERA, 112.0 IP, 1.232 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 3.69 K/BB)
- Justin Masterson, Indians (10-6, 3.48 ERA, 124.0 IP, 1.177 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 2.78 K/BB)
- Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners (7-4, 2.60 ERA, 121.1 IP, 0.882 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 5.72 K/BB)
- Bud Norris, Astros (6-7, 3.22 ERA, 109.0 IP, 1.367 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 2.17 K/BB)
- Glen Perkins, Twins (1-0, 20 SV, 1.99 ERA, 31.2 IP, 0.789 WHIP, 12.5 K/9, 6.29 K/BB)
- Joe Nathan, Rangers (1-0, 27 SV, 1.47 ERA, 37.2 IP, 0.796 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 3.90 K/BB)
- Mariano Rivera, Yankees (1-1, 27 SV, 1.44 ERA, 31.1 IP, 1.213 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 4.83 K/BB)
- Jesse Crain, White Sox (2-3, 0.74 ERA, 36.2 IP, 1.145 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 4.18 K/BB)

Scherzer gets the start over Hernandez and Darvish, while Norris is my representative for the Astros. Perkins gets the nod over the Athletics’ Grant Balfour (0-1, 21 SV, 1.85 ERA, 34.0 IP, 1.088 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.69 K/BB) because of a better WHIP, K/9, and K/BB, and the White Sox get a surprise second guy here in Jesse Crain, despite him recently being placed on the DL with a shoulder strain.

NATIONAL LEAGUE (italics denote starter)

Catchers
- Yadier Molina, Cardinals (6 HR, .351/.393/.497, 45 RBI, .384 wOBA, 3.7 fWAR)
- Buster Posey, Giants (12 HR, .312/.390/.526, 48 RBI, .391 wOBA, 3.4 fWAR)
- Russell Martin, Pirates (8 HR, .251/.348/.417, 32 RBI, .339 wOBA, 2.7 fWAR)

These three were obvious choices to me. Molina and Posey are known as the game’s top two catchers – regardless of what order you have them in – and Martin has done wonders with a young Pirates pitching staff.

First Basemen
- Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (20 HR, .302/.380/.550, 69 RBI, .396 wOBA, 3.3 fWAR)
- Joey Votto, Reds (14 HR, .323/.432/.511, 39 RBI, .403 wOBA, 3.2 fWAR)
- Freddie Freeman, Braves (9 HR, .313/.387/.473, 56 RBI, .372 wOBA, 1.5 fWAR)

Goldschmidt and Votto are shoe-ins, but I’m taking Freeman over the Cardinals’ Allen Craig (10 HR, .325/.370/.490, 66 RBI, .372 wOBA, 1.5 fWAR) as the third first baseman. The two have very similar offensive numbers, but the Braves’ slugger gets the nod for me because he’s put up his line in nine fewer games. Votto will be my designated hitter.

Second Basemen
- Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (8 HR, .320/.392/.489, 36 RBI, .383 wOBA, 4.1 fWAR)
- Brandon Phillips, Reds (12 HR, .269/.324/.427, 63 RBI, .322 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR)

It’s an absolute shame that Matt Carpenter has to sweat this out in the actual voting. He’s been by far the best second baseman in the National League (and possibly in the entire league), holding a massive edge to Phillips on the offensive side while being nearly equal defensively. “Dat Dude” takes the other spot with no other players being considered.

Shortstops
- Jean Segura, Brewers (11 HR, .323/.359/.497, 33 RBI, .369 wOBA, 3.5 fWAR)
- Everth Cabrera, Padres (4 HR, .305/.382/.418, 24 RBI, .354 wOBA, 3.6 fWAR)
- Ian Desmond, Nationals (15 HR, .282/.323/.506, 49 RBI, .353 wOBA, 2.9 fWAR)

The top three shortstops in Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) are the three picks here. Segura has been one of the few bright spots for the Milwaukee Brewers, while Everth Cabrera is one of my favorite players in the league. Desmond rode a big June into the last spot, hitting 60 percent of his homeruns (9) in the thirty days.

Third Basemen
- David Wright, Mets (13 HR, .306/.394/.528, 43 RBI, .396 wOBA, 4.5 fWAR)
- Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (21 HR, .243/.308/.513, 56 RBI, .347 wOBA, 2.1 fWAR)

I wouldn’t be opposed to play Wright the entire nine innings at third. Unlike the American League there’s no other standouts, so I’ll give the Alvarez a courtesy nod because he’s having a career year, and he’d be perfect for the Home Run Derby.

Outfielders
- Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (23 HR, .295/.362/.605, 62 RBI, .408 wOBA, 3.6 fWAR)
- Carlos Gomez, Brewers (13 HR, .311/.350/.562, 39 RBI, .386 wOBA, 4.5 fWAR)
- Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (19 HR, .305/.346/.537, 50 RBI, .379 wOBA, 1.5 fWAR)
- Hunter Pence, Giants (13 HR, .276/.321/.473, 42 RBI, .340 wOBA, 2.7 fWAR)
- Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (15 HR, .343/.396/.594, 52 RBI, .420 wOBA, 1.6 fWAR)
- Shin-Soo Choo, Reds (12 HR, .270/.419/.456, 27 RBI, .386 wOBA, 2.6 fWAR)
- Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (9 HR, .299/.370/.469, 44 RBI, .361 wOBA, 3.8 fWAR)
- Dominic Brown, Phillies (22 HR, .279/.326/.549, 60 RBI, .367 wOBA, 1.8 fWAR)
- Yaisel Puig, Dodgers (8 HR, .430/.455/.719, 19 RBI, .497 wOBA, 1.9 fWAR)

The Carlos triplets are my starters in the outfield – Gonzalez and Gomez are sure things, while Beltran gets the nod despite horrific play defensively. I’m also putting Puig on here, because even though his numbers are obviously unsustainable and he hasn’t had the same amount of plate appearances as his competitors, he’s been one of the NL’s top outfielders in his limited time in the majors. And with the hot streak he’s on, he’s a more appealing option to pinch-hit late in the game than the Reds’ Jay Bruce (18 HR, .275/.322/.512, 56 RBI, .353 wOBA, 1.7 fWAR) and the Diamondbacks’ Gerardo Parra (7 HR, .300/.359/.450, 26 RBI, .351 wOBA, 2.5 fWAR).

Pitchers
- Matt Harvey, Mets (7-2, 2.27 ERA, 123.0 IP, 0.911 WHIP, 10.32 K/9, 5.22 K/BB)
- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (11-5, 2.36 ERA, 133.2 IP, 0.995 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 9.00 K/BB)
- Cliff Lee, Phillies (9-2, 2.59 ERA, 125.1 IP, 0.965 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 5.48 K/BB)
- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (7-5, 1.93 ERA, 130.1 IP, 0.928 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 3.82 K/BB)
- Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals (12-3, 2.46 ERA, 120.2 IP, 0.945 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 5.00 K/BB)
- Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks (9-1, 2.49 ERA, 115.2 IP, 1.012 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.97 K/BB)
- Travis Wood, Cubs (5-6, 2.69 ERA, 110.1 IP, 0.979 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 2.42 K/BB)
- Jose Fernandez, Marlins (5-4, 2.72 ERA, 92.2 IP, 1.058 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 2.85 K/BB)
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (4-6, 2.24 ERA, 100.1 IP, 1.037 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 3.16 K/BB)
- Jason Grilli, Pirates (0-1, 28 SV, 2.15 ERA, 37.2 IP, 0.876 WHIP, 14.3 K/9, 8.57 K/BB)
- Aroldis Chapman, Reds (3-3, 20 SV, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 1.143 WHIP, 15.2 K/9, 3.28 K/BB)
- Craig Kimbrel, Braves (2-2, 23 SV, 1.72 ERA, 31.1 IP, 1.085 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 3.83 K/BB)
- Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals (1-1, 2.08 ERA, 39.0 IP, 1.077 WHIP, 12.9 K/9, 7.00 K/BB)

Harvey and Wainwright are basically even in the Cy Young race, but Harvey gets the nod to start the All-Star Game because of it being at Citi Field. Two teams have their only representative here as Wood goes for the Cubs, while the exciting Jose Fernandez is the lone Marlin. I’m taking Strasburg over the Pirates’ Jeff Locke (8-1, 2.12 ERA, 102.0 IP, 1.147 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.57 K/BB) and the Cardinals’ Shelby Miller (9-6, 2.80 ERA, 99.2 IP, 1.074 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 4.46 K/BB); the former top pick has the advantage on the Buccos’ southpaw in WHIP, K/9, and K/BB, while Miller’s recent struggles make it hard to take him. However, I’m taking Miller’s teammate Trevor Rosenthal for the late innings because of his K/9 – making him a viable option to hold a “fireman” role.

As always, if you have a differing opinion or somehow agree with my selections, feel free to let me know in the comments section or on Twitter at @WoyRMU15.

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