Here at Call to the Pen, we’re not about bashing the system of selecting players for the MLB All-Star Game, for the time being anyway (though it certainly could use an overhaul). If you are looking for places to read about that, I’m sure you won’t have any problem scratching that itch with a simple Google search. For the most part, we simply enjoy watching some of the best players in MLB face off in an exhibition. Along those lines, we take the game and the selection process for what it is. This year 68 players will be on the active rosters for the game, and it is time to start talking about who deserves to make this year’s American and National League squads.
To kick off that very topic, I asked all our MLB Lead Writers on staff here at FanSided an All-Star related question to use as the basis for our collaborative effort this month.
Taking into account only the 2010 season, which player on the team you cover is most deserving of making the 2010 MLB All-Star roster and why?
Writers were advised that they could take their selection and explanation in any direction they wanted to.
Just like last month’s collaborative effort, the June edition has been split into two separate articles. Part I was published yesterday and covered the American League teams. This is Part II and covers the 16 National League teams.
By the way, if you want even more All-Star related content, within the next week we will be revealing our official Call to the Pen All-Star rosters with starters and reserves voted on and selected by our staff of 9.
(Responses after the jump)
The most deserving player for the Arizona Diamondbacks, if there is one, would be Chris B. Young. He gets my vote over Kelly Johnson. Although Johnson was player of the month in April and currently has a slugging percentage of 0.528, Young has shown quite the turnaround from 2009. He has hit 12 home runs, has 44 RBI, and is hitting 0.277. He also has 11 stolen bases and the blazing speed as to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Chris Young has to be the guy as of right now. My apologies to Johnson and Ian Kennedy.
Martin Prado has been a constant in the Braves line up for the entire season and is more than deserving of a trip to the All-Star Game. Prado is quietly 2nd in the National League with a 0.338 average and is also leading the league with 95 hits. All the while he has played a solid second base defensively. When Prado was inserted into the lead off spot in the batting order it jump-started the Braves offense and helped push the team into first place in the National League East. Prado is a quiet lead-by-example player that has become a clutch performer for the Braves this season.
Don’t be shocked when I say this, but the Cubs All-Star this season would have to be starting pitcher Carlos Silva. Originally thought to be a salary dump from the Mariners for Milton Bradley, he has arguably been the best pitcher in the Cubs rotation. Silva is 8-1with a 2.89 ERA and is on pace to easily have the best year of his career.
Even though the Reds have been playing well and have a few guys worthy of being an All-Star, my pick is Arthur Rhodes. This guy has been practically unhittable since April. He has given up one run this season while pitching 28 innings. I know set-up men usually never make the team, but this year Rhodes definitely deserves a roster spot. He has been the Reds MVP.
*Rox Pile is still in search of a lead writer so Sooze from Babes Love Baseball agreed to pinch hit and represent the Rockies for us.
Although no beard in the big leagues can top Todd Helton’s, his All-Star days are long gone. Luckily, Carlos Gonzalez is playing All-Star-worthy ball for the Colorado Rockies after being called up from the Triple-A Sky Sox just a year earlier. A solid lead-off hitter with a left-handed bat, Gonzalez leads his team with 42 RBI on 72 hits (8 of them doubles and another 4 have been triples). He has crushed ten homers so far with a respectable 0.492 slugging percentage, and has showed some real hustle on the baseline as well with 8 stolen bags in 12 attempts. Plus, his teammates refer to him as “Little Pony” and that has to be good for something. Sadly, CarGo won’t even crack the Top 15 in voting for National League outfielders, since no one outside of Denver and Colorado Springs has any idea who the kid is.
Florida Marlins: Marlin Maniac lead writer Michael Jong
Judging solely on 2010 performance and not on true talent going forward, the best Marlins performance and the one most deserving of an All-Star vote is Josh Johnson’s. He has posted a 1.86 ERA (2.56 FIP) in 92 innings this season, a truly stellar start that has only been outdone by the even more amazing starts by fellow National Leaguers Roy Halladay and Ubaldo Jimenez. Had Jimenez not gotten off to such a ridiculous start, or had Halladay not immediately dominated the NL upon arrival in Philadelphia, the national media would perhaps be talking up Josh Johnson’s season a bit more. JJ has maintained his strikeout and walk levels at rates similar to his 2008 and 2009 seasons, but has been able to severely suppress the home run so far, allowing just three this season. While that miniscule 4.1% HR/FB% is not likely stick going forward, it has happened so far this season, and we should give Johnson credit for that. FanGraphs has him at 3.0 WAR so far this season, while Rally’s method has him at 3.4 WAR (via Baseball-Reference); both values rank second in the NL this year.
Although this season has been memorable for its lacking support from highly paid studs (i.e. Berkman and Lee), there have been a couple of bright spots from the team. Michael Bourn has been performing well this whole season with a 0.342 OBP, a NL leading 21 steals, and is on pace to have his first 100 run season. To be that offensively productive on a team that is 28th in the league in scoring is not only impressive, but intriguing since he has been able to produce by his own means with the big boppers supposedly knocking him in slumping. Most importantly, he has been patrolling center field at a gold glove caliber level all season, and many times he has kept the ‘Stros in the game with his glove when the team struggled to be productive at the plate.
There is little doubt regarding who deserves to be the All-Star Representative for the 2010 LA Dodgers. Andre Ethier could have rested upon his laurels and settled in as a perennial 0.290, 30 HR type hitter but his intense desire to be truly great was fully evident after 2 months of the 2010 season. Ethier was almost a super-platoon type hitter in ’08 and ”09, destroying righties with an OPS of nearly 1.000. However, that number sank against lefties dramatically (sub .700 OPS). Dodger fans would have likely accepted Ethier’s status as a integral, but complementary part with the likes of Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and Jonathan Broxton in tow as the stars. But Ethier is simply not wired that way. The guy has shown incredible intensity and passion for the game, evidenced by his furious outbursts after a less-than-ideal at-bat.
Ethier has used that passion to become a truly complete hitter, as he has mashed lefties to the tune of a 0.896 OPS in ’10. While youngster and presumed superstar-in-waiting Matt Kemp shows growing pains, Ethier simply carried the team off the get-go. He currently boasts a NL leading 0.346 BA to go along with 12 HR and 43 RBI, despite missing 17 games. His fiery demeanor doesn’t seem to affect his game either. It’s well known that the man simply hates to fail.
After a recent at-bat, a bat rack was the victim of Ethier’s outrage. Rather than scold him, the great Don Mattingly simply turned to Joe Torre and said, “I like him.”
So do Dodger fans, Don. Like him enough to proudly have him represent the Dodgers in the 2010 All Star Game.
It’s been a rough season for the Brewers, and its equally difficult to try and single out any players as “All-Stars” on a team that has been massively disappointing. But two players stand out from the on-set as deserving participants of the Mid-Summer Classic: Corey Hart and Ryan Braun.
Let’s take a closer look to see who is the most warranted All-Star THIS YEAR.
Firstly, just to get it out of the way, both are different, but still sour degrees of bad as corner outfielders. Braun is among the worst in the game defensively (-19.8 UZR for Braun over his time as a leftfielder, on pace for a -25.1 UZR/150 right now!) at his position so far, while Hart is merely below average, with a -3.6 UZR/150 over six seasons as a right fielder, though he is suffering his worst fielding season of his career thus far, with a -14.7 UZR/150 currently).
I feel comfortable giving neither player any edge here. Though Hart is clearly better, he’s been poor and not helpful. So it will be up to the better bat to decide this.
Let’s look at the stats:
Corey Hart: 0.263/.336/.584, 0.388 wOBA; 17 HR, 12 2B, 47 RBI, 30 R
Ryan Braun: 0.300/.363/.496, 0.383 wOBA; 10 HR, 19 2B, 45 RBI, 44 R
These are two pretty close players. Hart owns a 2 HR lead among National League hitters, which is pretty much sure to punch him a ticket (with Braun, who will likely be voted in), however, is he deserving? The answer is yes.
I mean, sure, the majority of his numbers are high because of those homers, which explain the monstrous 0.584 slugging percentage. He only had 12 doubles to go with these, so Hart’s production has for the most part been homer or bust, since he’s not hitting for high average.
Braun on the other hand is having a much more balanced and sustainable season and the kind we’ve come to expect from him by now. His home runs will probably go up, but beyond that he’s been outstanding. If the award were to grade the better player, or the player more likely to continue their season, Braun would win easily.
But Hart, to this point, has been the Brewers’ All-Star.
On a team flush with superstar caliber players with multiple past All-Star appearances (Wright, Reyes, Beltran, K-Rod, Santana), there is but one choice of which Mets player is most deserving to garner that honor this season … Mike Pelfrey. This year had been pegged as a “make or break” one for Big Pelf, the 9th pick in the 2005 draft out of Witchita State. With a 9-1 record and a an unreal 2.39 ERA after 13 starts, it is safe to say Pelfrey has successfully shed the bust label and established himself as one of the elite starters in the National League. The 6′ 7″ sinkerballer has always had the talent, but as I’ve detailed a number of times on my site, his shaky metal makeup has been blamed for holding Pelfrey back from reaching his potential. Big Pelf is not only looking like a lock to make his first All-Star team, but he is putting himself in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award. I’d mention the Cy Young, but that is Ubaldo Jimenez’s to lose at this point. This guy clearly has all the tools to become the Mets best home-grown pitching talent since Doc Gooden.
Given the Phillies’ latest comically backwards stumbling, thinking about the All-Star game right now is like watching your friend choke to death and throwing him a birthday party. Everybody’s been slumping… at least offensively. The bats have gone silent. The HR deluge has subsided. The out field grass has become a soundless, desolate landscape, where balls only drop for the other team and no fans are excited enough to be electrocuted in front of 45,000 screaming people anymore.
But Jamie Moyer just don’t care.
The man is almost half a century old and still doing some of his best work, already with two complete games (one being a 2-hit shut out)and, for a back of the rotation guy, has been incredibly solid. Now,I realize that 7-6, 4.76 ERA doesn’t get you to the All-Star game, but he’s been the victim of some slow offense in a few of his starts. He’s gone toe to toe with some of baseball’s best after having four surgeries in the offseason, and had to claw tooth and nail just to get on the rotation during Spring Training. The man is unkillable. If a massive asteroid were hurdling toward Earth, this Jamie Moyer fact alone would get him on the shuttle with the rest of humanity’s best; let alone the 2010 All-Star team.
Sure, there’s other names… Howard, Utley, Werth, Victorino–hell,three weeks ago, this pitch would have been for Carlos Ruiz had he not gone down with injuries–but they’ve all been equally neutralized due to some sort of clubhouse-wide epidemic, with symptoms including “crappiness” and “managerial shrieking.” So I gladly hand my vote to Jamie Moyer, a dusty old bad-ass with the arm that just keeps hurling 82-mph torpedos.
The Bucs have nobody that stands out as All-Star worthy. But since every team is a winner and has a representative, one could easily argue Andrew McCutchen. He has a 1.9 WAR as of today, but that is only good enough for ninth among NL outfielders. Further hurting McCutchen’s selection is there is a considerable dropoff in slugging, MLVr, PMLVr and VORPr between McCutchen and his NL CF competitors.
Reliever Luke Gregerson is the Padre who made my All-Star ballot. No pitcher in baseball has been more dominant than Gregerson, save for LA’s Jon Broxton. The slider specialist has a 1.57 ERA, 2.11 xFIP, ridiculous 41/2 K/BB ratio and 0.121 batting average against. Pick your metric and Gregerson dominates in it.
Sure, he’s not a closer, but to me, that’s just semantic. Gregerson has consistently pitched in high-leverage middle-inning situations and gets the job done time after time, primarily due to a funky motion and nasty slider that nobody can seem to pick up.
Beyond Broxton, no NL reliever should beat Gregerson onto the All-Star roster.
Who should represent the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 All-Star game? Well, that’s easy. Tim Lincecum, right? Actually, no. Tim has had a wonderful season for about 99% of major league pitchers, but, it’s been sub-par for the two-time Cy Young winner (at least to our expectations). While he’s more than deserving of an All-Star spot, the real All-Star for the San Francisco Giants is Matt Cain. Cain is continually forgotten about, especially by the national media, but he currently sits in 4th in National League ERA and 5th in WHIP. Living in the shadow of Tim Lincecum has its benefits and disadvantages, but this 25 year old (yes, he’s still only 25) has shown, despite his tough luck win/loss record, that he deserves a repeat All-Star appearance in 2010.
Well, I’d love to be original but once again, Albert Pujols is the man in baseball. Yes, even after his horrible May in which he hit 0.256 with only one home run, Pujols is an All-Star. We saw Pujols at a new low. And that low shows how great he is. Somehow, after looking human for a month and showing some frustration, he is hitting 0.308, is tied for 2nd in the NL with 15 home runs, and his 49 RBI rank 3rd in the NL. Pujols truly is beyond baseball. During his forgettable May, he wondered why there were cries that the sky was falling.
“Obviously, I spoil you guys too much hitting .350 every month and hitting a bunch of home runs with a bunch of RBIs,” Pujols said. “Obviously it’s not where you want it 100 percent, but when you do feel 100 percent in this game ever?”
Albert, you do spoil us. And the slump only magnified it. You’re still leading the National League in BB, OBP, and Total Bases while hitting over 0.300. If that’s failing, then we’d all love to be in your shoes.
If the best player in baseball wasn’t in St. Louis, I would give the All-Star nod to Jaime Garcia. I expect he’ll get an invitation to Anaheim after his sparkling first half. The rookie deserves to be rewarded for his performance. Forget about reputation and tradition, this young lefty is making a name for himself. Ubaldo Jimenez has the baseball world mesmerized with his 1.16 ERA and otherworldly fastball. Who’s second? Garcia with a 1.59 ERA. He has been consistent all year giving the Redbirds quality starts. So, this rookie should be off to California in July for some mid-season fun.
Ryan Zimmerman continues to be the best 3rd basemen in the NL, both at the plate and in the field. Despite being nicked up for 2 weeks, Zimmerman already has 13 homers while posting a 0.943 OPS which ranks 7th in the NL. Special mention also has to go to Left Fielder Josh Willingham, a threat to go 30/15 with a 0.280 average and the 2nd highest OBP in the league behind Pujols.
Topics: Albert Pujols, Andre Ethier, Andrew McCutchen, Arthur Rhodes, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Silva, Chris B. Young, Corey Hart, Jamie Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Josh Johnson, Josh Willingham, Luke Gregerson, Martin Prado, Matt Cain, Michael Bourn, Mike Pelfrey, MLB, NL West, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman