There’s a reason why its called the “All-Star” game and not the “All-Players who are having a good three months” game. Granted, in order for a player to become a star he’d need to have at least one really good season, but having a good start to a year doesn’t make a player a star. But, I digress, lets just take a look at what a Major League “All-Players who are having a good three months” team would look like thus far. I have one starter for each of the 8 positions plus a backup for each, a DH, 5 starting pitchers and 3 relief pitchers.
Catcher: Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins)
Mauer is having a down year compared to his MVP season of a year ago, but from an offensive standpoint only Victor Martinez is hitting better, and Martinez is such a poor defensive catcher that he has had playing time in other positions. Mauer is perhaps the glue of the Minnesota Twins and his play on both sides of the plate are the reason why the Twins have been as consistently good as they have been the past few years.
Backup Catcher: Victor Martinez (Boston Red Sox)
Martinez’s numbers can not be ignored, however he hasn’t played at catcher for the entire year because he is such a terrible defensive catcher, allowing 55 stolen bases this year so far.
Honorable mentions: Mike Napoli (LAA), Brian McCann (ATL), John Buck (TOR)
First Base: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
This is really close between Justin Morneau, who has a higher average, and Cabrera, who has more production of the two. Cabrera is one of three guys carrying the Tiger offense, and he has done so with 19 home runs, most out of all first basemen.
Backup first baseman: Justin Morneau (Minnesota Twins)
This is a really deep first base group this year. Morneau edges out the other by being 2nd in the majors in batting average and 1st overall in OPS.
Honorable mentions: Kevin Youkilis (BOS), Albert Pujols (STL), Paul Konerko (CHW)
Second Base: Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
Cano has had a breakout year of sorts for the Yankees, leading all 2B in RBI and all hitters in batting average. With Granderson hurt, Alex Rodriguez having a down year and Mark Teixiera having an even downer year, Cano has carried the Yankee offense and has been far and away the best 2nd baseman of this season.
Backup second baseman: Dustin Pedroia (Boston Red Sox)
Behind Cano is a logjam of 2nd baseman who have also had strong season. Pedroia gets the edge by combining his power and production with speed on the basepaths, something the others have yet to fully do.
Honorable mentions: Brandon Phillips (CIN), Martin Prado (ATL), Kelly Johnson (ARI)
Third Base: Scott Rolen (Cincinnati Reds)
Rolen has had a career revival in Cincinnati, hitting about .300 with 15 home runs thus far as the Reds are battling the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central, something previous Reds teams were not able to do this late into the season.
Backup third baseman: Adrian Beltre (Boston Red Sox)
Yes, this is the third Red Sox player on the team, all of which are backups mind you, but like Martinez and Pedroia, Beltre has surged in power and production. His position leading .342 average is the key reason for this, along with his 51 RBIs.
Honorable mentions: Evan Longoria (TB), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), David Wright (NYM)
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez (Florida Marlins)
The position has declined in quality in recent years, and although Hanley has had dugout issues with manager Freddi Gonzalez (or should I say former manager Freddi Gonzalez), Ramirez has had the best all-around season of all the shortstops this season.
Backup shortstop: Jose Reyes (New York Mets)
Reyes hasn’t played all year but he has still had a significant impact, already stealing 19 bases and driving in 30. Honestly, Troy Tulowitzki would be in either of these spots but he has since gotten hurt.
Honorable mentions: Troy Tulowitzki (COL), Juan Uribe (SF), Alex Gonzalez (TOR)
Outfield #1: Josh Hamilton (Texas Rangers)
Hamilton has exploded this month, has an 18-game hitting streak as of this writing, 10 of which are multihit games, 5 of which he’s had at least 3 hits. His power has not slacked off either, as he has hit 8 HRs thus far in the month. Suffice it to say, he’s back yet again.
Outfield #2: Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Rays)
Crawford has stolen 26 bases, driving in 38 runs, and is hitting over .300 this year. Add in his defensive prowess and Crawford is undoubtedly one of the major league’s best outfielders.
Outfield #3: Alex Rios (Chicago White Sox)
Last year was perhaps Rios’ worst year in the majors both on and off the field, but he has had an excellent 2010 season thus far, hitting .313 with 13 HRs and 20 stolen bases thus far.
Backup outfield #1: Magglio Ordonez (Detroit Tigers)
Continuing with the ‘comeback year’ theme of many players on this roster is Ordonez, who had a very poor 2009 but has come back strong with a .328 average and 48 RBIs.
Backup outfield #2: Andre Ethier (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Though bothered by injury for a time, Ethier has made contact with the ball often, and with that contact comes a lot of power that has helped him have an OPS bested only by Hamilton.
Backup outfield #3: Corey Hart (Milwaukee Brewers)
At the start of the season it was unsure as to whether Hart would be a starter, but he’s since washed away any sort of doubt, hitting 18 HRs and driving in 55 runs, a good chunk of which has come in the past few weeks.
Honorable mentions: Jayson Werth (PHI), Jose Bautista (TOR), Vernon Wells (TOR)
Designated Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero (Texas Rangers)
Guerrero has thrived in the Rangers offense, having driven in 59 and hitting over .320 thus far. Of those who primarily hit as a DH, Guerrero has been unmatched over a three month span.
Starting Pitcher #1: Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado Rockies)
Though he’s had some struggles recently against the AL East, outside of that Jimenez has been practically unbeatable, having a sub 1.00 ERA for much of the year and also throwing a no-hitter over a month ago as well.
Starting Pitcher #2: Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)
Halladay has had his struggles against the AL East as well (who hasn’t, really?), but Halladay started off extremely well, including pitching a perfect game against the Marlins, and continues to be one of the league’s best pitchers.
Starting Pitcher #3: Josh Johnson (Florida Marlins)
Johnson has also had a very strong season which has been pushed in the backburner against the likes of Halladay and Jimenez. Johnson has the 3rd best ERA of eligible pitchers and has a very strong K:BB ratio…
Starting Pitcher #4: Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners)
…though not as strong a K:BB ratio as Lee, who has only walked 4 yet struck out 76 in nearly two months worth of starts this season. He looks to be a top trade target yet again as the Mariners continue to fade out of the playoff races.
Starting Pitcher #5: Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee Brewers)
Gallardo is 4th in ERA and leads both leagues with 115 strikeouts. He’s prone to giving up a hit or a walk here or there but he has also shown to be able to get out of any trouble with his stuff.
Honorable mentions: Jamie Garcia (STL), Adam Wainwright (STL), Clay Buchholz (BOS)
Relief Pitcher #1: Brian Wilson (San Francisco Giants)
With 20 saves, Wilson is among the top closers in strikeouts, with 42, while only allowing 7 runs all year thus far.
Relief Pitcher #2: Heath Bell (San Diego Padres)
San Diego has remained in the division race because of their pitching, in particular their bullpen. Leading that bullpen is their closer Bell who will become a big name in trade rumors should the Padres fall out of contention (not likely).
Relief Pitcher #3: Jose Valverde (Detroit Tigers)
Among top closers, nobody has given up fewer runs than Valverde’s 3, giving him a 0.57 ERA, and he has also only allowed 10 hits thus far. While the Tigers have had trouble getting leads at times this year, once they get one into the 9th expect Valverde to finish the job with no problem.
Honorable mentions: Jonathan Broxton (LAD), Matt Capps (WAS), Neftali Perez (TEX)
Source for stats:
ESPN, Player Statistics, ESPN.com