Yesterday, you (hopefully) read my picks for the American League All Star team. If you haven’t, give it a whirl and let me know what you disagree with. Before I get to my NL picks, a few notes for your information if you haven’t read my AL picks: In the case where good arguments can be made for more than one player, I lean towards the player with the more established career. This is the All-Star game, not the All-Good-For-Three-Months game. After that, I lean towards the player whose offensive contributions are greater. This is not how I would choose my roster for a real team, but as the saying goes, “Chicks dig the long ball,” and so do most casual fans, and this game is merely a fun exhibition. So let’s score some runs.
As I run through each position, I’ll highlight my top three candidates, and the first name listed is my choice for starter. In the end, I’ll have rounded out a 34-man roster with eight starters and thirteen each of reserves and pitchers, keeping in mind that every team has to be represented. It’ll make for a fun debate. So here are my choices for the National League:
Catcher – Jonathan Lucroy, Evan Gattis, Yadier Molina. Pretty easy choice. Lucroy and Gattis are killing the ball. There’s a cluster of catchers with comparable offensive numbers for that third spot, which include Russell Martin, Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Montero and Buster Posey, but Yadi is easily the best defensive catcher out of the bunch and perhaps the biggest star, too. However, this is the first year in a while he isn’t the best.
First Base – Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman. I would listen to arguments for Matt Adams, Justin Morneau and Adam LaRoche, but I think the numbers speak for themselves, and also playing time keep them off the roster.
Second Base – Chase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Scooter Gennett. Utley has really turned back the clock this season. He’s a shoo-in to be voted in as the starter and deservedly so. Scooter Gennett of the Brewers has been the best offensive second baseman, and his name is “Scooter.” Points. Dee Gordon warrants consideration, but Murphy is having a slightly better year and also has to go as the only representative of the Mets. Neil Walker might have gone if the game was three weeks ago, but he missed time due to injury and hasn’t come back strong.
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki, Troy Tulowitzki, Troy Tulowitzki. That was easy. Seriously, though, Hanley Ramirez and Starlin Castro get the nod here. Jhonny Peralta’s defense and home run total shouldn’t go unnoticed, but aside from that, he’s been a huge disappointment considering the contract he signed with the Cardinals. A rare mistake from the best organization in baseball. Brandon Crawford has had a nice season, but not nice enough.
Third Base – Todd Frazier, Aramis Ramirez, Anthony Rendon. Frazier and Ramirez were fairly easy choices. Rendon was a tough pick over Casey McGehee. The offense was a toss-up. McGehee has a better average and OBP, but Rendon slugs better, and is a better base runner than McGehee. He also plays better defense. There’s also the matter of Rendon’s pedigree and star power compared to McGehee, whose lackluster career forced him to play in Japan in 2013.
Outfield – Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton (left to right), Carlos Gomez, Seth Smith, Hunter Pence. Cutch and Puig are playing a different game right now and Stanton’s power is not of this world. Puig starts in LF because I think he’s a better athlete than Stanton and would adapt better in a different position. I’ve been impressed with the plate discipline Gomez has finally developed, and he’s on pace to shatter his career high in home runs, too. Smith has had a very good season and deserves to be here, even though he may strike some as the “pity” pick from the Padres. Pence just beat out Michael Morse for the last spot, though he should be the comeback player of the year. Remember Charlie Blackmon? Since his 9-for-10 stretch over two games, he’s been the picture of mediocrity. Justin Upton has had a nice season, but not nice enough. Ryan Braun has comparable numbers to Pence, but an injury cost him time while Pence is dependable.
Pitchers – Johnny Cueto, Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Jeff Samardzija, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman, Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Craig Kimbrel, Huston Street, Steve Cishek, Pat Neshek, Tony Watson. This was tough. I only chose three closers for the NL because of the wealth of starting pitching. I also included two middle relievers because they have both pitched much better than most closers. Zach Duke and Joaquin Benoit have had tremendous seasons. Jason Hammel, Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels and Michael Wacha got long looks and could have made someone else’s team.
What say you?