By The Common Man
Try as he might, The Common Man just can’t quit the All Star Game. He wishes he could. It’s been twisted and exists to serve cross purposes, both as a fun exhibition for fans to watch, a way to honor great players, and a way to decide who gets an extra World Series game. One of these is antithetical to the other two, and TCM is pretty sure you can figure out what it is.
Still, the ASG has produced some of the greatest baseball moments of the past 25 years, with the on-field celebration of Baseball’s 100 greatest players that featured Ted Williams, Cal Ripken Jr’s homerun in his final national showcase, and John Kruk’s at bat against Randy Johnson (which remains, to this day, the only amusing thing John Kruk has ever done). And it’s inherently fun, TCM thinks, to see so many great players on the field at once.
So TCM doesn’t mind that it’s turned into All Star week here at TPA, with Mark and Bill each laying out their criteria for an All Star, and Bill actually choosing starters based on his. Mark seems to want to select a passion fruit to start, or something. TCM's not real sure he got that. Anyway, figuring we might as well go for the trifecta, The Common Man is going to try and construct entire All Star Rosters, using the rules we’ve got (35 players, at least one per team), because he has the constant need to one-up Bill.
First, the criteria. TCM believes that, above all, the All Star Game is an exhibition for the fans. So fans should get to see the guys they want to see. That said, the current voting system is, and always has been, broken. This has been apparent since 1957, when Reds fans stuffed the ballot boxes and elected seven Reds to the NL Starting Lineup. So instead of going with the fan vote totals, TCM is taking control, suspending the democractic process, and giving fans who they should want to see. The most excellent and entertaining players. These are players who will generate the most excitement both by their presence and by their play. In most cases, this will be the best player at each position. However, TCM is sentimental, and will allow some players (cough…Jeter…cough) to be grandfathered in. Ok, on to the picks:
Update: Bill points out this might be more interesting/accessible to you in a spreadsheet. If that's the case, here one is.
Bill wanted Alex Avila (.304/.369/.546) for the starter. Is he nuts? Avila is clearly having the best season in the American League, but does anyone actually want to bet that he is actually this good and can keep this play up? The Common Man certainly does not. Avila earns a spot on the team as a backup. If Carlos Santana were having a better year, we’d include him here, since he’s probably the AL catcher of the future. Since he’s not, we’ll select the old standby, Joe Mauer (.235/.289/.265) and his sideburns. Yes, Mauer has only played in 9 games this year, but he’s coming off the DL today and figures to be well rested and productive until the All Star Break. And how could fans not love to look at his beautiful face. Matt Wieters (.275/.329/.412) also backs up.
We waited all winter to see how Adrian Gonzalez would do at Fenway Park, and we got our answer: Awesome. .347/.402/.596, leading the American league in batting average, hits, doubles and RBI. He’s starting. Backing him up will be Miguel Cabrera (.319/.443/.559) of the Tigers and Paul Konerko (.321/.390/.556) of the White Sox. And Adam Lind (.341/.384/.629) has been terrific, so why not?
It’s a tightly bunched group in the American League, but Robinson Cano (.290/.335/.517) is probably the most talented 2B in the AL, and had an MVP caliber season last year. He’ll start, but we’ll also take Ben Zobrist (.260/.337/.473) of the Rays and Howie Kendrick (.307/.371/.486) of the Angels as backups, which will give us some positional flexibility.
Evan Longoria (.237/.349/.417) is the best 3B in the game, and gets the start here, despite his injurious start to 2011. Adrian Beltre (.2628/.314/.461) will represent the Rangers.
Yes, it’s usually about the best player, but how many All Star Games does Derek Jeter (.260/.324/.324) have left? We’ve made so much fun of the Captain over the years (not that it hasn’t been fun and deserved), we should not forget he’s been a legitimately great player. Asdrubal Cabrera (.295/.341/.507) of the Indians serves as the backup, and Alexei Ramirez (.292/.354/.431) can come along too.
It’s kind of slim pickings in the American League. We’re not limited to taking an actual LF here, but we’ll take Josh Hamilton (.284/.340/.478) anyway. He’s been hurt a lot and his stats are not up to their usual level, but he’s an incredibly entertaining player who has some electricity in his bat.
Curtis Granderson (.285/.361/.608) is legitimately crushing the ball, and is tied for the AL lead in homers, while leading the circuit in runs scored. No doubt.
Again, this one is easy, with Jose Bautista (.332/.486/.678) leading the AL in homers, walks, OBP, slugging, and WAR. Coupled with his performance last year, and hopefully a Home Run Derby appearance, and this could be The One Man Gang’s coming out party.
We need some reserves. Denard Span (.294/.361/.385) has been the best player on the Minnesota Twins, and deserves a spot, especially since there’s nobody else to select. Jacoby Ellsbury (.314/.375/.469) can play all three outfield spots and is fast. And we need a Royal, so Alex Gordon (.282/.349/.454) gets a spot.
It’s David Ortiz (.314/.390/.604) in a walk. He’s just an incredibly fun person to watch do anything.
Josh Beckett (6-2, 1.86) has had a terrific season, but Justin Verlander (8-3, 2.66) is absolutely electric, and gets the start for me. Maybe he’ll no-hit the NLers for three innings. Beckett makes the team, as does Jered Weaver (8-4, 2.06) and Dan Haren (6-4, 2.54). Alexi Ogando (7-1, 2.71) can come as a Ranger. Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 2.69) will be the lone Oakland A on the team, and Felix Hernandez (7-5, 3.30) and Michael Pineda (6-4, 2.72) will represent the Mariners. Zach Britton (6-4, 3.18) is our Oriole rep. We’ll take Mariano Rivera (1-1, 1.71, 16 saves), of course, but we’ll also take Aaron Crow (2-0, 1.42) of the Royals. We’ll also take Ricky Romero (6-6, 3.01) and CJ Wilson (7-3, 3.03).
Brian McCann (.295/.367/.476) of Atlanta has been the best overall catcher in the National League for years now, and it’s time he’s recognized as such. Miguel Montero (.284/.366/.488) is also excellent, though he doesn’t have the same track record. Personally, it would be gratifying to see Wilson Ramos (.248/.319/.406) make the team as well, so that we can make fun of Twins GM Bill Smith more for the Matt Capps trade.
Yes, Joey Votto (.331/.457/.518) and Gaby Sanchez (.308/.385/.506) and Prince Fielder (.297/.417/.606) have all been better in 2011. But do any of you really think they are better players than Albert Pujols (.275/.353/.491), who has been locked in since the end of May? You better not. We’ll put Votto at DH, and Sanchez and Fielder on the bench.
Chase Utley (.275/.383/.500) looks like he’s finally back from the hip injury that sidelined him for most of the first part of 2011. He’s been criminally underappreciated in his career, so we’ll reward him here. Rickie Weeks (.290/.360/.505), who you really couldn’t go wrong with starting either, will be a terrific backup.
As much as TCM loves Chipper Jones (.266/.361/.446), who deserves to go as a reserve, he’s going to take Ryan Zimmerman (.302/.404/.442) as the starter, given that he’s clearly the best 3B in the National League. Pablo Sandoval (.305/.365/.495) comes along too.
The Mets’ Jose Reyes (.348/.390/.531) and his 12 triples get the nod. He’s the most exciting player in the National league, leading the circuit in batting average, hits, and triples. Troy Tulowitzki (.274/.344/.502) has cooled off from his incredible start, but we’ll still let him play. And Jimmy Rollins (.257/.330/.377) can hang with us too as an elder statesman/fan favorite.
Ryan Braun (.312/.398/.565) is putting together a Hall of Fame-type resume up in Milwaukee, where he’ll stay for the next 47 years or so. He’s more than deserving of the All Star start.
Andrew McCutchen (.294/.397/.492) gets the nod here because he’s a terrific defender. McCutchen is probably the most exciting young player in baseball, and TCM has a huge man-crush.
Matt Kemp (.335/.420/.638) is having the better season than McCutchen, leading the National League in homers, slugging, OPS, and WAR, but he’s a lesser defender, so we’ll shuffle him to the corner.
As backups, we’ll take Jay Bruce (..282/.357/.529), Lance Berkman (.310/.424/.610) and we’ll make Kosuke Fukudome (.301/.409/.419) our lone Cub and Cameron Maybin (.259/.322/.413) our lone Padre.
As stated above, we’ll let Votto have it.
Roy Halladay (9-3, 2.56) leads the NL in innings, strikeouts, complete games, and wins. He’s clearly the guy to start. We’ll also take his teammates Cole Hamels (9-2, 2.49), Cliff Lee (7-5, 3.12), and Ryan Madson (3-1, 2.10, 15 saves). Ian Kennedy (7-2, 2.98) makes the cut from the Diamondbacks, as does Jhoulys Chacin (8-4, 2.81)of the Rockies. Timmy Lincecum (5-5, 3.41) is still an elite pitcher, and don’t think for a second that we’re leaving off Shaun Marcum (7-2, 2.68), Tommy Hanson (8-4, 2.48), or Clayton Kershaw (6-3, 3.28). We’ve got to take The Undefeated Dillon Gee (7-0, 2.86). We’ll take Wandy Rodriguez (4-3, 3.12) as our Astro. And finally, in a controversial move, we’ll take Zack Greinke (6-2, 5.23) because he has a 70-9 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. Wow.
OK, so that's TCM's picks. 35 guys per team, each club with at least one. The Phillies lead the way with 6, but all of them seem pretty deserved. The Yankees and Red Sox each have four. The defending AL Champ Rangers have four as well, while the World Champion Giants have two. TCM is sure he missed someone, and that you'll let him have it in the comments. Please, blast away.