Baseball’s Midsummer Classic is quickly approaching, Tuesday July 13 to be exact, and I have been given the task of playing Yankee’s skipper Joe Girardi and picking the All-Star squad for the American League. Now there are some new rules in place for this year’s game, including an expanded roster of 34 players, and one player allowed to re-enter the game if needed. The roster has to contain 21 position players and 13 pitchers. Each team must have at least one player chosen. I also saddled myself with the starters that are currently leading the fan’s vote. So there are the ground rules and here is who made the cut.
Catcher: Minnesota Twins catcher, Joe Mauer, gets the start behind the plate and I am okay with that selection. I decided before I looked at any statistics that I would carry two other catchers on the team. Now even though he isn’t the greatest defensive catcher Boston’s Victor Martinez has a good enough bat that he makes the cut. Toronto’s John Buck gets the third spot, it would be his first All-Star selection.
First Base: Once again the Twins provide the starter picked by the fans, this time it is Justin Morneau. He is second in the league in batting average, and although he wouldn’t be my starter, he would have made the team. My starter would have been Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera has been knocking the stuffing out of the ball, yet he is amazingly only third in the fan vote. I initially was only going to take three at this position, but one of the new rules made me take a fourth. Chicago’s Paul Konerko has his power bat going for the White Sox and makes the team. Boston’s Kevin Youkilis will be my special reentry player since he can play first, third, or in the outfield.
Second Base: The Yankees Robinson Cano is the obvious choice to start and the fans get it right. Ty Wigginton will be the lone representative of the Baltimore Orioles. Howie Kendrick of the Angels will also make it.
Third Base: Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria just keeps on being one of the best players in the game and gets the start at the hot corner. Boston’s Adrian Beltre has been a find for the Red Sox and it would be his first All-Star team.
Shortstop: Here is where the fans and I differ. Derek Jeter of the Yankees will win the starting job in the fan’s vote and he wouldn’t of even made the team for me. The Blue Jays Alex Gonzalez, who has 13 home runs, should be the starter, but he will have to settle for coming off the bench. Overall the is the position with the least depth in the American League.
Outfield: The fans got two-thirds of the starters correct. Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford and Texas’ Josh Hamilton are both good choices. The man leading the outfield vote is the one I have a problem with, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. He has good numbers , but there are quite a few candidates that have better ones. The rest out the outfield will be the Angels Torii Hunter, the Blue Jays Jose Bautista, who leads the league in home runs, and the Royals only All-Star, Jose Guillen.
Designated Hitter: This is probably the easiest position to choose as it has to be Vladimir Guerrero of the Texas Rangers. In a resurgent year for Guerrero he is leading the Rangers into serious contention in the West.
Starting Pitchers: Of the 13 pitchers that will be on the roster, I decided that I would take nine starters. Six pitchers were obvious choices for me. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte from the Yankees, Cliff Lee from the Mariners, and David Price from the Rays. Three spots left and I have to take a player from Cleveland so welcome to the team Fausto Carmona. Colby Lewis has been pitching well for the Rangers so he gets a nod. The final spot will be taken by the Angels Jered Weaver.
Relief Pitchers: A familiar face will make the team in the Yankees Mariano Rivera, it would be his 11th selection. Jose Velverde of the Tigers has been absolutely dominant with an earned run average of just 0.57. Rafael Soriano of the Rays has sure up what was a weakness for the Rays last season. This leaves me still needing a player from the Oakland A’s and so the final spot goes to last season’s Rookie of the Year, Andrew Bailey.
So there is the list and I am sure some of you will say I missed the mark on some of my picks. Please feel free to leave your comments below and let me know who you would have taken and who should be left off.
Hamilton Ahead in All-Star Battle of Mates, mlb.com
MLB Leaders, ESPN.com