The American League was a little easier than the NL, I think. Such depth in the NL outfield and at first base and no depth at all at third base made it difficult to settle. But trying to adhere to that stupid rule about representing each team made it a challenge. Without further ado…
C - Alex Avila, Victor Martinez, Carlos Santana
Avila and Martinez are no brainers. Santana and Russell Martin could be interchangeable, but I picked Santana because while Martin’s advantages are by a few points here and there, Santana’s OBP is 23 points higher. It was hard not to use Martin’s seven stolen bases as a deciding factor, though.
1B – Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira
I’m not getting a holiday card from the Konerko’s, and I accept that. Cabrera is nothing short of an offensive juggernaut. He’s Manny Ramirez, but…….better. Gonzalez is a no-brainer, as well. It was between Tex and Konerko for the final spot. Konerko’s slash line is superior in all three facets and so is his wOBA, but I went with Tex because while he’s not exactly lagging behind in his rate stats, his BABIP is an unbelievable .210, a full 106 points lower than Konerko! Tex has to have great luck in the future to climb back up into “unlucky” territory. Their batted ball statistics are not that different. If Tex wasn’t so unlucky, he’d have 30 bombs and at least a .270/.380/.580 slash line and be a shoo-in. And not to mention one of the best gloves in the league.
2B – Robinson Cano, Howie Kendrick, Ben Zobrist
Fairly easy choice again. You can make an argument for Ian Kinsler over Zobrist, but it wouldn’t be a good one.
3B – Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre
Another relative slam dunk. I was surprised to see Mark Reynolds is hitting a robust .225.
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, JJ Hardy
Yunel Escobar has a case over Hardy, and I wouldn’t tell Blue Jays fans they’re wrong, but Hardy is just as worthy and the Orioles need a representative.
OF – Carlos Quentin, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista (left to right), Alex Gordon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Joyce (left to right), Michael Cuddyer
The American League is really, really easy. Cuddyer doesn’t really belong, but who else can the Twins send?
P – Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Felix Hernandez, James Shields, Gio Gonzalez, David Price, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Kyle Farnsworth
This is a case where there were just more impressive numbers from starters than from relievers. There were a handful of guys with 18 or 19 saves, but their peripherals just weren’t very good. Since it’s a forgone conclusion Rivera will be the team’s actual closer, I’d rather get Shields and Price in there instead of Jose Valverde or Chris Perez just because they close for their respective teams. It was very tough leaving Jon Lester off the team, as he’s one of my favorite baseball players, but the numbers just didn’t stack up. And speaking of Price, conspicuous by his absence is CC Sabathia. I did not forget about him. He was originally my #2 behind Verlander, but I heard he is scheduled to pitch on the prior Sunday, leaving him ineligible. That’s where Price comes in, as CC’s replacement. Should another starter pitch on Sunday, you can pick Lester, Perez and Valverde out of a hat. Those are my next three in.
There they are, my 2011 American League All-Stars.