Friday, July 02, 2010

The BSD American League All-Star Roster

As this blog’s resident American League columnist, I hereby present to you the unofficial Official Back Seat Drivers American League All-Star Roster! Hitman did a bang-up job on the NL All-Star Roster, which can be found here.

Following Hitman’s lead, I have selected 34 players to fill the 34 roster slots. Per All-Star Game rules, there is at least one player representative from each AL team. The selections have been made without regard to current injuries or fan balloting; i.e. this is my set of picks for the entire roster, as if I got to choose the entire 34-man team.

Starter: Victor Martinez, Red Sox. It’s been a down year for catchers in baseball and the AL has not been spared in this regard. V-Mart is hitting .289/.344/.480 with 9 HR and 38 RBI which ranks him first or second in each category among his positional peers.
Reserve: Joe Mauer, Twins. It’s not anything like the MVP season he put up in 2009 but Mauer is still the game’s best all-around catcher and has earned an All-Star appearance with a .300 average and .806 OPS.
Just Missed: None.

First Base:
Starter: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. The AL leader in HR and RBI sports a .337 AVG and is having his finest season in a superb career. Whatever his late-season issues were last year, they’re clearly behind him now. This is good for the Tigers and good for the AL.
Reserve: Justin Morneau, Twins; Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox; Paul Konerko, White Sox. In truth, there’s just not that much separating these reserves from the starter. Each of these guys is among the league leaders in HR, RBI, AVG.
Just Missed: None.

Second Base:
Starter: Robinson Cano, Yankees. This one wasn’t even close. Given the increased value of offensive production by a middle infielder (over a corner infielder or an outfielder), Cano has been hands-down, the AL MVP and arguably the game’s best player in 2010. With a .353/.404/.588 batting line to go with his position-leading 16 HR, 54 RBI, 57 R and sterling defense, Cano is in the middle of what might end up being one of the best seasons ever by a second baseman.
Reserve: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox; Ty Wigginton, Orioles. Pedroia started off hot, cooled off in May and then came roaring back to life towards the end of June and is now back to his usual all-around dependability (.292/.370/.502). Wigginton ranks second among 2B with 14 HR and represents the Orioles’ lone All-Star representative.
Just Missed: None.

Third Base:
Starter: Evan Longoria, Rays. One of the game’s best young players, “E-Lo” is tied for the AL 3B lead with 12 HR, ranks second in RBI and third in AVG, all while playing a stellar defensive third base.
Reserve: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox; Michael Young, Rangers. If Beltre is miffed at not getting the starting job at the hot corner he can take solace in the fact that he has the 2010 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award safely in hand. He ranks in the league leaders with a .349 AVG, 12 HR, 53 RBI and is unquestionably the game’s pre-eminent defensive third baseman. For Young it’s just another routine .300 season with double-digit homers. It must get boring being as consistently productive as Michael Young is!
Just Missed: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees.

Starter: Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter gets the nod in an extremely weak field this year. The Yankee Captain had an MVP-type season in 2009 but has shown signs of aging thus far in 2010. Despite that, Jeter still ranks second in HR, RBI and R and third in AVG.
Reserve: Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays; Elvis Andrus, Rangers. Gonzalez leads all AL shortstops with 14 HR and 40 RBI and Andrus, despite being the only regular AL SS with zero homers, has doubled up the field in the stolen base department, leading the position with 22 steals.
Just Missed: None.

Starters: Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Vernon Wells; Blue Jays; Alex Rios, White Sox. Holy Reclamation Project outfield, Batman! Hamilton’s story is well known at this point so it’s not worth rehashing. What perhaps is not known is that he’s leading AL outfielders with a .340/.385/.607 batting line, along with 18 HR and 58 RBI. He’s been the game’s hottest hitter over the past 30 days and is probably the sole reason why the Rangers have a hold on first place in the AL West. Wells (.280/.331/.557, 19 HR) and Rios (.307 AVG, 13 HR, 21 SB) were both put on outright waivers by the Blue Jays last year. One year later, they’re two-thirds of the AL’s starting outfield. Incredible.
Reserve: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners; Torii Hunter, Angels; Shin-Soo Choo, Indians. You know it’s a pretty strong starting outfield when mainstays Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki are relegated to reserve duty. Both are having strong seasons but missed out on the starting jobs because Hamilton, Wells and Rios were just doing that much better. Choo, arguably the game’s most underrated player, is Cleveland’s lone representative.
Just Missed: Nelson Cruz, Rangers; Magglio Ordonez, Tigers; Brett Gardner, Yankees; Nick Swisher, Yankees.

Starting Pitchers:
Starter: Jered Weaver, Angels. I’m sure there’s a degree of surprise with this selection, especially given some of the names listed among the reserves. The element of surprise notwithstanding, Weaver is leading all AL pitchers in strikeouts (124) and boasts a 2.82 ERA to go with his 8 wins. The Angels may only be in second place but Weaver is having a Cy Young season.
Reserves: Jon Lester, Red Sox; David Price, Rays; CC Sabathia, Yankees; Ricky Romero, Blue Jays; Francisco Liriano, Twins; Cliff Lee, Mariners; Felix Hernandez, Mariners; Trevor Cahill, A’s. The names listed here represent the majority of the AL leaders in W, ERA and K’s. Special mention goes to Francisco Liriano for coming all the way back from two years worth of surgeries and to Trevor Cahill for being the A’s sole representative.
Just Missed: John Danks, White Sox; Phil Hughes, New York Yankees; Andy Pettitte, Yankees; Jeff Niemann, Rays, Carl Pavano, Twins; Zack Greinke, Royals; Justin Verlander, Tigers; Clay Buchholz, Red Sox; Colby Lewis, Rangers.

Relief Pitchers:
Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Jose Valverde, Tigers; Neftali Feliz, Rangers; Joakim Soria, Royals. Rivera’s selection is self-explanatory as he is the single-greatest relief pitcher in baseball history in the midst of yet another incredible season (0.89 ERA). Amazingly, Rivera’s microscopic ERA does not lead the field of AL relievers, as Valverde’s 0.53 is even more impressive. Feliz, a rookie that came up as a setup man last year, leads the AL with 21 saves and Soria joins the squad both as a deserving candidate (20 saves) and as the Royals lone representative.
Just Missed: Andrew Bailey, A’s; Rafael Soriano, Rays; Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox; Jon Rauch, Twins.


Gutsy Goldberg said...

As I said for the NL post, I don't know baseball, but I do want to commend you on selecting an entire all-star team...
and hooray for Shin-Soo Choo! Go Tribe! That's probably the most the Indians have had to cheer about all season. One all-star on the BSD website! :)

Hitman said...

I'm surprised that Crawford didn't even make your "just missed" list. Otherwise, I would have Morneau start over Cabrera, but as you note, there's not much separating the AL's first basemen. Those are my only quibbles, and they're minor.


Mighty Mike said...

I will state that given that I have a Choo bobble head doll I always root for him. In fact most of my sports allegiances is based on action figures/bobble head dolls.

MJ said...

@Hitman: I'm mortified! That's a glaring omission on my part and the worst thing about it is that he was on my scrap-sheet as I was writing out all my eligible players.

Now I'm in a bind because I actually think Crawford belongs on the All-Star team, I just don't know who I can drop to make room for him...

Gutsy Goldberg said...

How is this not a fantasy sport? By "this" I mean, how does Yahoo or ESPN, etc., not have a fantasy game that allows you to select an entire all-star team and awarding points for accuracy???

Mighty - if I make bobblehead dolls of MJ and Hitman does that mean you root for them in their softball and kickball games?

Hitman said...

@MJ: I think Ichiro is dropped in favor of Crawford. But it's a tough decision.