AL All-Stars According to Me

I wish I could go.

I am going to go through each position and tell you who should be in the game, at least who I think should be, based on their first-half performance. I don’t necessarily think players should be rewarded for hot starts to the season, but because that’s the way convention does it, I’ll go along with it.

Joe Mauer (3.9 WAR)
Victor Martinez (3.1), Mike Napoli (1.7)

I don’t think anyone needs any reason why Mauer is the starter. Martinez is a bit misplaced as he’s played more games (39) at first than at catcher (36), but he’s raked and is better than any of the other choices and deserves to be in the game. The last spot came down to Napoli and Jorge Posada, but Napoli has the better average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

First Baseman
Kevin Youkilis (3.0 WAR)
Russell Branyan (2.8 WAR), Mark Teixeira (2.4 WAR)

Loads of good candidates here, but some have to be left out. Youk isn’t a surprise here, but Branyan (1.009 OPS) really is the second-best choice here even though few realize the season he’s having. After those two, it was a three-way battle between Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Morneau. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. But Cabrera is somehow positive defensively (+3.6 runs) while Tex is costing the Yankees (-2.0 runs). I’m not sure that’s right, and I’ll give Tex the benefit of the doubt. As for Morneau, he’s just the third-best choice in the group (don’t kill me Bill).

Second Baseman
Ian Kinsler (3.1 WAR)
Aaron Hill (2.7 WAR), Brian Roberts (1.9 WAR)

Kinsler is quietly putting up another spectacular season. Maybe it’s in an offensive park, but he steals lots of bases (16 to 3 over Hill) and plays great defense (already saving 6 runs). Hill’s done well but just not enough to start. Finishing it off, Roberts nabs the Orioles’ spot in the game, but honestly, he’s been better than Pedroia, who’s not having that MVP season.

Third Baseman
Evan Longoria (3.8 WAR)
Brandon Inge (3.1 WAR), Scott Rolen (2.4 WAR)

No qualms with Longoria, I’m sure. Inge is quietly a big reason the Tigers are in first place. Michael Young has had a good offensive season, but it’s not as good as Rolen’s and he’s playing poor defense. Chone Figgins deserves an honorable mention, but I’m not sure the stolen bases make up for the 80 points in OPS.

Jason Bartlett (3.2 WAR)
Marco Scutaro (3.0 WAR), Derek Jeter (2.9 WAR)

Clearly the best 3 shortstops in the AL. As for the starter, Bartlett has come out of nowhere to have a great offensive season to add to his stellar defense. The other two are good, but Bartlett’s offense is much better than Scutaro or Jeter’s while posting solid defense. Scutaro rounds out what has been an awesome infield so far. Too bad Vernon Wells and Alex Rios are stinking up the joint.

Ben Zobrist (4.0 WAR), Ichiro Suzuki (3.0 WAR), Torii Hunter (2.8 WAR)
Carl Crawford (2.8 WAR), Nelson Cruz (2.4 WAR), Curtis Granderson (2.5 WAR)

Who is the only person with a better WAR than Zobrist? Yep, Albert Pujols. He deserves in this game, but Kinsler was better than Ichiro and the other outfielders. So, Kinsler gets to stay in the lineup. Ichiro’s .375 average (.391 BABIP to his career .357) is a bit fluky, but he still plays great defense and he’s always hit well. Hunter nudges out Crawford to get a center fielder and because his OPS is 160 points better. Crawford gets in based on his defense and stolen bases (as well as a solid offensive start). Cruz has hit well, and his defense is vastly underrated. Granderson has played his typically good defense along with 18 bombs that hold up his OPS. Surprisingly, Brett Gardner and Juan Rivera narrowly missed out. I thought about putting Jason Bay in there because of his excellent offense, but his 69 RBI’s aren’t enough for me to ignore his horrid defense in a small left field.

Starting Pitching
Zack Greinke (5.4 WAR)
Roy Halladay (4.0 WAR), Justin Verlander (3.7 WAR), Felix Hernandez (3.3 WAR), Cliff Lee (3.1 WAR), Edwin Jackson (3.1 WAR), Josh Beckett (3.0 WAR)

This may have been the easiest choice outside of shortstop. Greinke is far and away the best pitcher in the first half. Halladay is the best pitcher in the game, and the others are simply having very good seasons. CC Sabathia, James Shields, and Dallas Braden all sit well under Beckett.

Relief Pitching
Andrew Bailey (1.3 WAR), JP Howell (1.3 WAR), Joe Nathan (1.1 WAR), DJ Carrasco (1.0 WAR)

We needed an Athletic, so Bailey gets in. We needed a White Sock, so Carrasco gets in. Nathan should always get in. Howell has had a really good season, and he’s forced the normally nomadic Joe Maddon to use him as the closer. Mariano Rivera and David Aardsma are honorable mentions, and I wouldn’t complain if either made it on the team.


There may need to be more pitchers. 7 starters (all much more valuable than relievers) are on the team, and 3 should be able to go a measly 2 innings if needed. But we like lots of pitchers just in case another 2002 happens. If so, Brian Roberts can’t be touched, and Napoli needs to stay as a third catcher. That means that Nelson Cruz, Scott Rolen, or Mark Teixeira would be next. Out of those, Rolen is probably first to go with Cruz coming next because I think Teixeira is better than the other two.

Obviously, I weighed WAR pretty heavily, but it’s the easiest stat to use that combines offense and defense. I did look at other stats while taking all this into consideration. Teixeira, for example, moved up even though Cabrera had a better WAR. Nathan leapfrogging Aardsma is another. Anyway, any gripes? Any guesses on who (Zobrist) will be left off the actual team?


4 Responses to “AL All-Stars According to Me”

  1. Bill Says:

    Heh. I think Morneau was a clear-cut choice a few weeks ago, but he's fallen off a bit. And that's totally defensible. I'd still take Morneau over Cabrera or Tex — Morneau has been the best hitter of the three, and like you I just don't trust those defensive rankings that much. Too much noise in samples of less than about a season, it seems to me. It'll mean more if they're at +6 and -4 and -5 at the end of the season, but +3 and -2 and -2.5 halfway through just tell me that they're all around average.

    Actually, I'd take Youk, Morneau and Cabrera. Branyan has been awesome, but I'm a big believer in basing it on more than just three months–either a full year, or weighing career value/popularity in some way. Branyan obviously doesn't have the latter, and he was horrible in the second half after a hot start to 2008.

    Good list, though. It'll be interesting(/depressing) to see how different that ends up being than the real roster…

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    As I said, I can totally see Morneau in the game, but I felt the other were just better. The AL 1B race was really difficult.

    As for Branyan, I'm totally with you on basing it on more than just 3 months. However, the basis for getting into the game is those 3 months, so I'm just going with it there. Morneau seems to be doing what Chipper is — tanking his value by losing offense.

    As for the defense, I tried to take it with a grain of salt, but I don't know a whole lot about all the AL players. I'm more NL. However, I did look at career offensive numbers to see if things seemed to be in line if I thought there were discrepancies.

  3. Bill Says:

    Not sure what you mean by "the basis for getting into the game is 3 months." I mean, yeah, a lot of times the hot bat will get in, but a lot of times it'll be the fan favorite, too. As I pointed out a while ago, Jimmy Rollins was the leading NL shortstop for a while, and I think Josh Hamilton is still in the running.

    The Rollins thing is ridiculous, but I never had a problem with Cal Ripken starting the game for years after he had any performance-based right to, for instance. And on the other point, there's nothing saying you can't take the guy's last calendar year or so into account rather than just the three months.

  4. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Let me correct that slightly. Starters are picked by the fans, and then, it's a total popularity contest. Otherwise, I think it really does come down to the first 3 months and not necessarily reputation. That's at least what I've been told is supposed to happen.

    And while the last calendar year is nice, I'm not sure anyone does that.

    Again, I don't disagree with you. If Griffey somehow makes the game, I'm okay with that. We're talking the ALL-STAR Game here, and he's an all-star. But this "This one counts" crap has put the focus back on who's playing the best right now.

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