Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Stars Shine In San Diego #MLBAllStarGame #AllStarGame

By Alex Hale, @ThatCLESportGuy

It’s that time of year again when the American and National League All-Stars are announced for the MLB All-Star Game.  After last year’s debacle of watching Kansas City Royals fans stuffing the ballots, I realized that there really should be an unbiased opinion giving their own take on the All-Star Game.  So instead of writing about the Indians and their trade options, we’re going to go through my choices for the American and National League All-Stars.  This will include my starting choices and my selections for the reserves.  I decided to do this after the announcement of the All-Star Rosters to compare to see how a Baseball fan like myself compared with how the Fans voted.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going to agree with everything the fans did.  This is a completely unbiased opinion of my choices for the 2016 Mid Summer Classic.

National League

Catcher- Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals- First off, how can anyone vote Yadier Molina who is past his prime and the numbers clearly show it.  Ramos is having a career year hitting .340 with 13 HR and 46 RBIs.  Most people honestly have no idea who Ramos is and the fact he is a very good hitter.  Ramos has been a big part of the Nationals this year and currently is in 3rd place behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey.  Compared to those two ahead of him, Ramos is the starter and its not even close.

First Base- Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs- This isn’t much of a debate here.  The leader of the Cubs who is once again having a big year with 20 HRs and 61 RBIs.  This was a tough call because Paul Goldschmidt is just as deserving as Rizzo.  What really was the deciding factor as the numbers in their own rights were equally as impressive was the fact that Rizzo is playing for the Cubs, the best team in baseball.  So in a way by default Rizzo for me would get the nod.  But again for the record, Paul Goldschmidt is just as deserving.

Second Base- Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals- A .347 average, 14 HRs, and 56 RBIs, Washington really looks smart for paying Murphy the money they did to get him.  While I can understand the support for Cubs 2B Ben Zobrist, but the debate isn’t even close.  I’m surprised especially after his October stretch last year from a national standpoint that more people aren’t voting for him.  He should be the starter here over Zobrist.

Shortstop- Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers- First off…HOW IS ADDISON RUSSELL AN ALL-STAR?  That’s a joke, the guy is hitting barely over .240 right now!  Corey Seager in his first full year has clearly lived up to the hype.  He has 17 HRs, is hitting around the .300 level and guys, this kid is for real.  What’s more alarming was Seager was behind Trevor Story and Addison Russell in the voting.  This is a joke if Russell starts.  You cannot deny Seager is the best SS in the NL right now.

Third Base- Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies- I get it Cubs fans…you’re stuffing the ballots this year but once again there’s another player whose numbers are far better than your player.  America meet Nolan Arenado, the 2015 NL HR and RBI leader and your current NL RBI leader.  Nobody knows about him most likely because he plays for the Rockies, but he’s the most talented 3B in baseball today.  He plays great defense and although he plays in Coors Field, he really is that good of a hitter.  I know Kris Bryant is having a good year as well, but if the 2015 NL HR and RBI leader is following up with another strong year like Arenado, he must start.

Outfielder #1- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals- This doesn’t deserve much explanation at all.  Unanimous 2015 NL MVP, and while he isn’t have a strong year, this is the most talked about player in baseball, for the sake of the game he has to start.  Also…Bryce be in the HR Derby please.

Outfielder #2- Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies- Carlos Gonzalez is somehow 7th in the voting for NL Outfielder behind the entire Cubs outfield and that’s a crime.  CarGo is hitting .317 with 18 HRs and 51 RBIs…how is this not as good as anyone in the Cubs outfield?  Reality is this guy should be in the starting lineup without question, yet again fans are too biased to be allowed to vote.  CarGo is a proven MLB star who deserves the respect of fans everywhere as one of the games best.  It’s not his fault people he’s played in Colorado all these years.

Outfielder #3- Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets- As it stands Yoenis Cespedes and Bryce Harper seem to be locks on the current balloting to start for the NL and at least we got 2 of the 3 outfielders right.  Cespedes has followed up his MVP level 2nd Half with the Mets last year and had it carry over this year.  He has 20 HRs, 50 RBIs and has his average at the .300 mark.  There’s no question that the Mets offense revolves around his stellar performance.  He’s earned his spot on the NL Starting lineup.

Starting Pitcher- Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs- Does this really warrant an explanation now that Clayton Kershaw won’t be available for the All-Star Game?  No it doesn’t.  Arrieta has continued his 2nd Half dominance from last year into this year so yeah I’m starting him.

NL Reserves

C Buster Posey SF
C Jonathan Lucroy MIL
1B Paul Goldschmidt ARI
1B Wil Myers SD
2B Ben Zobrist CHC
2B Neil Walker NYM
SS Aledmys Diaz STL
3B Kris Bryant CHC
OF Starling Marte PIT
OF Marcel Ozuna MIA
OF Obdel Herrera PHI
OF Jay Bruce CIN

NL Pitchers

SP- Julio Teheran ATL
SP- Madison Bumgarner SF
SP- Jon Lester CHC
SP- Noah Synergaard NYM
SP- Jose Fernandez MIA
CP- Jeurys Familia NYM
CP- Kenley Jensen LAD
CP- Mark Melacon PIT
CP- AJ Ramos MIA

American League

Catcher- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals- Arguably the heart and soul of the defending champion Royals has continued his stellar play in 2016 and looking at really the rest of his competition in the AL, this is a no-brainer.  The next choice would be Matt Wieters, but Perez’s stats clearly top Wieters offensively and its arguable the two are equal defensively.  By where their respective teams stand, Wieters’ Orioles are in 1st in the AL East, while Perez and the Royals are in 2nd in the AL Central.  My theory is if the stats are equal, team record is the tiebreaker.  In this case, Perez’s stats surpass Wieters and gets the nod from me.

First Base- Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers- Who else am I going to choose?  Chris Davis has shown great power this year, but his average has dropped.  Eric Hosmer might be a good selection as well, but like the case of Perez over Wieters, Miggy’s stats top Hosmer.  Besides who else in the AL should start at 1B?  As long as Miggy is having a, “Miggy” type season, he needs to start.  With a .300 avg, 18 HRs and 51 RBIs, Miguel Cabrera edges Hosmer and gets my selection to start at 1B.

Second Base- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros- This position was extremely hard for me to vote on.  Robinson Cano has had an outstanding first half, looking like the Yankees Robinson Cano who was an offensive force to be reckoned with.  The problem is…Jose Altuve is that damn good now.  Altuve is hitting .353 leading the MLB.  On top of that, Altuve has had a power explosion in the first half with 14 HRs so far (his career high is 15 last year).  Add to that he’s at the top of the AL in steals with 21, Altuve might be a leading candidate in the AL for AL MVP.  At the end of the day, love the bounce back year by Cano, but it’s not enough.

Shortstop- Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians- To the National Fans of Major League Baseball…stop hating on Francisco Lindor.  First off, the Writers Association ROBBED Francisco Lindor of the AL Rookie of the Year last year.  Now because Carlos Correa got all that publicity, nobody knows who Lindor is and it’s shown in the voting for AL Starting SS.  This is not even a debate.  Yes, Xander Bogaerts is having a great year, but Lindor matches him offensively, far surpasses him defensively (can I see seriously Altuve and Lindor turn a double play in this game?)  The National Media is going to rob the fans of last year’s Gold Glove 2B turning two with this year’s Gold Glove SS.  While Bogaerts beats Lindor out in average, the rest of the stats are somewhat the same.  So that tiebreaker comes into play, Indians are in 1st in AL Central, Red Sox are in 2nd in AL East.  Therefore Lindor wins in my book.

Third Base- Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles- We all talk about Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper as these big name hitters in the game, but where’s the Manny Machado love?  Well I’ll admit people are starting to notice the talent he has.  After a great season last year quietly hitting 35 HRs and had 20 steals, he’s followed it up with 18 HRs and 50 RBIs this year.  Although he doesn’t have any steals this year, his average has jumped from a .286 avg to right now a .330 avg on the year.  Honestly if I had to vote for the AL MVP today, it’s going to be Manny Machado.

Outfielder #1- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels- Well the Angels might be in last place in the AL West, but it’s not because of Mike Trout.  Once again Trout is the one bright spot in the Angels season so far as nothing has gone right for them this year.  After socking 41 HRs last year, he’s followed it up with 17 HRs so far and is back to hitting over .300 on the year.  If he only was on a better team that made it so he didn’t have to carry the load and just play his game…the numbers he’d put up.

Outfielder #2- Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox- My MLB Preview dark horse pick to be the AL MVP hasn’t disappointed me at all.  Mookie has made a major jump from his first full MLB season into his second full season.  While his average is around the same area it was last year (.296 avg.), he’s already hit 18 HRs and has 57 RBIs and 13 steals.  Betts will probably have a 25-25 season when its all said and done, but for right now to put Mookie Betts in the same outfield as Mike Trout is a treat for every MLB fan in the All Star Game.

Outfielder #3- Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers- Yes I’m going out of the box in a way with my 3rd AL Outfielder selection.  Remember last year when Ian Desmond was the SS for the Washington Nationals?  Now he’s the CF for the Texas Rangers and has done an outstanding job with the defensive transition and not letting the change in position and jump to the AL effect his offense.  It’s arguable that he’s better than what he was offensively last year.  Currently he’s hitting a career-high .321 with 15 HRs, 52 RBIs and 14 steals as well.  So basically he’s on pace for a 30-30 season, which basically is Mike Trout/Mookie Betts territory, bottom line…he deserves to start with them.

Starting Pitcher- Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians- This was a tough call between Chris Sale and Danny Salazar.  Ironically, Sale was my preseason AL Cy Young pick, while Salazar was my dark horse pick.  As of now I’d give the nod to Salazar over Sale.  Right now Salazar leads the AL in ERA at 2.22 with a 10-3 record, while getting June AL Pitcher of the Month with a 5-0 record, with a 1.91 ERA.  Everyone is talking about how historically great the Indians rotation is and as long as Salazar keeps it up, because of how good the Indians rotation has been, Salazar must get the nod.

AL Reserves

C- Matt Wieters BAL
1B- Eric Hosmer KC
2B- Brian Dozier MIN
2B- Robinson Cano SEA
SS- Xander Bogaerts BOS
3B- Danny Valencia OAK
3B- Evan Longoria TB
OF- Jackie Bradley Jr BOS
OF- Carlos Beltran NYY
OF- Mark Trumbo BAL
DH- David Ortiz BOS
UTIL- Jose Ramirez CLE

AL Pitchers

SP- Chris Sale CWS
SP- Josh Tomlin CLE
SP- Cole Hamels TEX
SP- Steven Wright TEX
SP- Marco Estrada TOR
RP- Andrew Miller NYY
CP- Wade Davis KC
CP- Zach Britton BAL
CP- Craig Kimbrel BOS
CP- Alex Colome TB

Now I’m not going to compare pick for pick with what the real MLB All-Star Game rosters are like.  This was my unbiased view of the players who thought should go to San Diego.  It really is a shame that the players couldn’t get the right players in front the teams at the bottom of the division.  For example Adam Duvall who is having a great season for Cincinnati got the nod over teammate Jay Bruce.  In my opinion, Bruce should’ve been the choice.  I also think the Indians were disrespected by the league with only 2 All-Star players.  Everyone keeps talking about how great the Indians rotation is and while Corey Kluber ruined it for himself in Toronto, Josh Tomlin deserved an All-Star appearance.

In the end when it comes to All-Star Starters, fans need to do their homework.  In no way should Cubs SS Addison Russell be a starter.  Over the past 2 years, we had the Royals fans almost vote 2B Omar Infante as an All-Star (who is now a FA), and now Cubs fans picked their entire Infield.  Fans need to know the longer this kind of voting occurs, the more likely that in the future, you might lose your power to vote for All-Stars.

Fans must remember, the Winner of the All-Star Game determines Home Field Advantage for the World Series.  So for next year, make sure your vote is counted.  The All-Star Game is normally a fun and competitive game to watch so enjoy the game because after the All-Star Game, the fun is just beginning…

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