With voting very near complete at the time I write this article, I will assume that all the leading vote getters won their respective positions. At each position your NL starters will be:
C: Russell Martin (LAD)
1B: Prince Fielder (MIL)
2B: Chase Utley (PHI)
3B: David Wright (NYM)
SS: Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF: Carlos Beltran (NYM)
OF: Ken Griffey Jr. (CIN)
OF: Alfonso Sortiano (CHC)
Now, with the starters announced comes the tough part. I wanted to see how hard it would be for me to put together the remainder of the all-star substitutes like the NL manager has to do each year. Remember that the qualifications are that you must have one representative from each team (which is a ridiculous rule in my opinion, but that’s for another article). Also, the coaches can break it up anyway they want, but you are supposed to have 26 bench spots. For the purposes of this article and the way the it shaped up, I chose to do 12 pitchers, 4 being relief pitchers and 14 position players, not counting the announcing of the starting pitcher.
So without further ado, here is my simulated list of players I would chose to be on the All-star team in the National League:
Starting Pitcher: Jake Peavy (SDG) – There was nothing hard about this pick. He has clearly been the most dominant pitcher in the national league all year, and perhaps all of baseball. Peavy is 9-2 with a 2.14 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 113 Ks in 105 innings pitched. Only Cole Hamels has more strike outs in the national league. Not only that, the Padres are atop the NL west. The nod definitely goes to Peavy.
SP: Brad Penny (LAD) – The big guy has been absolute filthy all year. He’s 10-1 with a 2.04 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, and has given up 1 earned run or less in his last four starts. His numbers rival those of Peavy’s and I guess it’s fathomable he could receive the starting job, though I doubt it as he does not carve people up quite the way Peavy does.
SP: Chris Young (SDG) – Young is the other reason Padres starting pitching looks so good on paper. With an 8-3 record, 2.14 ERA and 1.09 WHIP Chris Young has been almost as good as his teammate. He’s K’d a combined 20 hitters in his last two starts spanning 14 innings.
SP: John Maine (NYM) – Had it been the middle of June I might not have picked Maine. He had lost 4 of his last 6 starts after a brilliant start to the season, but since showing signs of vulnerability he’s stepped it up and won his last three, all in dominating fashion. Maine is 9-4 with a 2.74 ERA, which should dispel much talk that he’s just won so much because of the potent Mets’ offense.
SP: Derek Lowe (LAD) – Lowe doesn’t have the remarkable record most of these guys have. He’s 8-7 on the year, but put some of that blame on the Dodger offense. In his last four losses he’s only given up 7 runs total. Lowe’s ERA is 3.03 and his WHIP is 1.14 and he’s definitely deserving of a spot on this team.
SP John Smoltz (ATL) – This sure hall of famer with the tenacity of a bulldog is 9-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 90 K’s is trying to lead a balanced Braves team back to the playoffs in the very tough NL East. At the age of 40, he isn’t showing many signs of slowing down.
SP Ben Sheets (MIL) – This guy sure is capable of a lot when he’s healthy. With 7 wins in his last 9 starts, Sheets has been really good lately. With a 9-3 record, 3.09 ERA, and 1.18 WHIP it’s good to see Sheets back on top of his game for the N.L. central leading Brew Crew.
SP Brandon Webb (ARI) – The anchor of the Diamondbacks staff. Webb is 8-5 with a 3.05 ERA and has 100 strike outs those his WHIP is a little high (1.27), in large part due to the fact that he’s walking a few too many hitters this year including 5 in his last outing.
SP: Ian Snell (PIT) – Most people probably think that Pittsburgh’s representative should be Jason Bay, but with a crowded outfield this year, Snell is the more logical pick. Snell is 6-5, but you can contribute a lot of that to the fact he’s on the Pirates. His ERA is 2.90 and his WHIP is 1.19 which puts those numbers near the league leaders.
Unfortunately in picking Snell you bump Cole Hamels off the squad in spite being 9-4 and leading the NL in K’s. That said, Hamels, in only his second year in the bigs, does have quite a bit higher ERA than the rest of these all-star starting pitchers and that’s the main rationale for bumping him rather than Lowe, Sheets, Smoltz, or Webb.
RP: Takashi Saito (LAD) – For a guy who is 37 years old and had every expert predicting he would lose his job to hard-throwing phenom John Broxton, Saito has been the most effective closer in the national league. 1-0 with 22 saves and 42 Ks in 33.2 IP Saito has been dominant. Still don’t believe me? His ERA is 1.38 and his WHIP is a miniscule 0.73, Putz is the only closer with one lower.
RP: Billy Wagner (NYM) – This probably isn’t much of a surprise. Wagner has notched 16 saves and has 49 strikeouts in only 36.1 innings pitched. His ERA is is 1.73 and his WHIP his 0.91.
RP: Franciso Cordero (MIL) – The Cubs just gave Cordero a beating but he’s still leading the NL in saves and so despite the fact that his ERA his higher than the rest of the closers on this list (2.91) he’s definitely still deserving of a spot on this team.
RP: Trevor Hoffman (SDG) – It was tough choosing between Isringhausen and Hoffman. I went with the guy with more saves. Neither are necessarily strike out closers and Izzy’s ERA is lower, but Hoffman has the lower WHIP and hasn’t blow a save in the last month. In addition, Hoffman’s team is having more success (maybe the reason he has more saves). Blah, I still can’t decide I don’t guess – we’ll stick with Hoffman.
Notable omissions include Rich Hill (CHC), Jose Valverde (ARI) Oliver Perez (NYM) and Brian Fuentes (COL). Fuentes and Perez have been less than spectacular lately. Perez has lost 3 of his last 5 starts and Fuentes has blown a few saves. Hill is only 5-5 and has been vulnerable at times, and Valverde has pitched really well, as has Isringhausen, but there’s just not enough room with how well the other NL closers have pitched and the addition of Ian Snell to the team on account of the Pirates needing a representative.
Now the position players.
Johnny Estrada (MIL) – The catching in the national league with the exception of Martin has been pretty mediocre if not downright bad. Before you start asking me where’s Brian McCann let’s examine the stats. Estrada and McCann have the same amount of home runs, 7. McCann has more RBIs 41 to Estrada’s 31, but Estrada has scored more runs 29 to 23 and has a higher batting average .020 full points, at .282. Lo Duca, though a fan favorite, really isn’t at the same level of these two guys yet this year.
Albert Pujols (STL) – It will be weird seeing someone start at 1st base in the all-star game other than Pujols, but Fielder is definitely deserving. After a slow start Pujols is coming on strong though raising his average to .305, with 16 bombs and 48 RBIs.
Dmitri Young (WAS) – There are plenty of NL 1st basemen more qualified for this team than Young, especially Adrian Gonzalez who has turned in a good year, Berkman who is coming on strong and Derek Lee and Ryan Howard. That said, you have to have one representative from each team and Young clearly makes the most sense on a bad Nationals team. In his defense he is hitting .339, but with only 7 HRs and 36 RBIs his secondary numbers are lacking for a guy at the 1st-base position.
Dan Uggla (FLA) – He strikes out too much and his average is a dismal .255, but Uggla leads second basemen in runs scored (62) and home runs (16), and his second behind Utley with RBIs (49) so he definitely warrants a spot on this team.
Brandon Phillips (CIN) – I couldn’t leave off Phillips either, though I thought about it to make room for another shortstop. Phillips has blasted 14 homeruns though, and he has a respectable .271 average and 15 stolen bases. On pace for a 30/30 season at 2nd base, that is always impressive.
Miguel Cabrera (FLA) – David Wright has been good, really good after a slow start, but I still think Miggy deserved the starting spot. Granted, Wright is easily more likeable and more fun to watch play. Cabrera beats Wright in 4 of the 5 major offensive categories though. He’s hitting .322 with 48 runs scored, 17 bombs, and 56 RBIs.
Hanley Ramirez (FLA) – Adding yet another Florida infielder to this team, Hanley is another that maybe deserved to start in the game. Hitting .325 with 11 HRs, and 65 runs scored, Hanley beats Jose Reyes in 3 of the 5 main categories. He’s also swiped 24 bags.
Jimmy Rollins (PHI) – Rollins also has 65 runs, but more home runs (13), and RBIs (47). He’s stolen less bases though still a suficient number (15) and is hitting .286. He had a brief dry spell in May, but made up for it with a solid June to help keep SS in the NL the deepest position there is this year.
Edgar Renteria (ATL) – You can’t leave this guy off either. The Braves SS is hitting .327 with 10 home runs, 52 runs scored, and 38 RBIs. He hasn’t hit a HR in quite some time, but he has been relatively consistent at the plate over the last month.
Now I know I’m going to get crucified because I left JJ Hardy off this list with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs, which lead both categories for shortstops in the majors. He has scored less runs and is hitting for a lower average than the other guys (.278 –which is still not bad at all). He hasn’t stolen any bases and you would usually like a short stop to be able to snag at least a few, especially from the two slot in the order.
I would like to see Hardy make the team, I really would, but I think the other shortstops on this team are all more deserving and because you have to put a guy like Dmitri Young or even Ian Snell, who are both having good seasons in their defense on the team, guys like Hardy ultimately get the shaft.
With Beltran heating up and Griffey having a really good year despite getting up there in baseball age they are both deserving of an all-star appearance. As is Soriano, but I’m not completely convinced that any of the three should be starting for the all-star team. Who should?
Matt Holliday (COL) – For one Matt Holliday has been the best outfielder in the national league so far this year. Holliday is hitting .348 (highest in the NL), with 13 homeruns and 61 RBIs (4th). His pop may have decreased a little bit this year, but the rest of his numbers are on pace to all be better than the spectacular year he had last year. This guy is going to be a NL force for a long time.
Adam Dunn (CIN) – 3rd in the league in home runs (23), Dunn deserves a spot on this team in my mind. Yes, he strikes out too much, but he does draw a lot of walks that do enable him to score a lot of runs (53). Not only that Dunn has been better than advertised with his average so far this year at .267 – high for Dunn. He also has 7 stolen bases.
Eric Byrnes (ARI) – This guy flies a little under the radar, but how can you not like Eric Byrnes. He plays the game all out every play and is really a treat to watch. 50 runs, 13 HRs, 46 RBIs, 15 SBs and a .317 average Brynes is near the top in every major statistical category and he’s part of the reason the Diamond Backs are making a push this year in the NL West.
Carlos Lee (HOU) – Houston’s lone representative without Roy O, and Berkman making the team. (Pence barely misses out the way he’s been playing). A cold spell has Carlos’ batting average dipping below .300, but he has 15 home runs and leads the NL with 67 RBIs.
Barry Bonds (SF) – Probably not one of the top 8 outfielders, but San Francisco has been bad this year and no other Giant can really make a case for this team. With 16 home runs, and a .298 average he’s invariably going to break Hank Aaron’s home run record soon enough, and the game is being hosted in San Francisco. With the record going down this year to Barry, it is only fitting he plays in this game.
Okay, so now who did I leave off?
I already mentioned Adrian Gonzalez who has cooled off a bit, and I did my best to explain the J.J. Hardy omission even though I would’ve liked to have him on the team.
At 3rd base you could make a case for both Chipper Jones and Aramis Ramirez. Chipper was hurt for part of the first half and he still has great numbers. Hitting .332 with 13 home runs he could’ve made the list over someone like Brandon Phillips had he not gotten hurt. Aramis has 15 home runs, 44 RBIs and his hitting .304 at the time of this article.
Finally there are five other outfielders that I think are all having solid years and deserve a mention. Shane Victorino has scored 50 runs and stolen 22 bases making him one of the premiere base stealers in the league this year. Fellow Phillie Aaron Rowand has 49 runs scored, 11 bombs, 41 RBIs and is hitting over .300 as well. Colorado’s Brad Hawpe 13 jacks and 54 RBIs and is hitting .300 even. Two guys that didn’t start the season, but have been on fire since playing are Corey Hart and Hunter Pence.
In the last month alone Hart has 9 bombs and 10 stolen bases and is hitting .352. Pence is hitting .336 with 8 bombs and 7 stolen bases, but was near the top of the league in multiple extra base hit games and might be a lock for rookie of the year if he keeps it up.
I would love to hear your arguments for players not on this list and any other people you think I left off. The National League was way harder to do than the American league because I had to make sure I had a representative from San Francisco, Washington, and Pittsburgh and I’m not sure those teams deserved someone (though I don’t mind seeing Bonds).
I know that the players pick 8 players and 5 pitchers and the coach finishes the rest, but I wanted to go ahead and pick all the rest myself to speculate who you’ll see on the team. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Again, anyone who doesn’t think this is hard should definitely give it a try.