As this blog's resident National League columnist, I hereby present to you the unofficial Official Back Seat Drivers National League All-Star Roster!
I have selected 34 players to fill the 34 roster slots. Following ASG rules, there is at least one player representative from each NL 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.
Let's get to it:
Starter: Miguel Olivo, Colorado. Olivo has been the best offensive catcher in the league - hitting .312, with 11 dingers, 36 runs and 39 rbi. He's also nabbed an incredible 53% of runners trying to steal on him. An easy choice to start.
Reserve: Brian McCann, Atlanta. There really isn't a good 2nd choice. I'm going with McCann because he's got the best offensive numbers among the league's regulars - but even his stats aren't compelling (.260-9-33).
Just Missed: None.
Starter: Joey Votto, Cincinnati. Pujols is the reflexive choice, but Votto's been just a tad better (.314-18-55-51 runs-7 SB). Votto's also a huge reason why Cincinnati is surprisingly in contention.
Reserves: Albert Pujols, St. Louis; Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego; Ryan Howard, Philadelphia. Pujols' numbers are just behind Votto's; he's putting up a typically amazing season. Gonzalez is once again toiling in obscurity, even with the Friar's success - but with a .297-16-51 line, he absolutely belongs here. Howard is quietly putting together another terrific campaign (.297-15-55).
Just Missed: Adam Dunn, Washington.
Starter: Chase Utley, Philadelphia. Unlike previous seasons, his offensive numbers aren't head-and-shoulders above his peers - but he's still been all-around terrific, and he has the highest UZR rating (that's a fielding metric) to boot. But not a slam-dunk decision this year.
Reserve: Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee; Martin Prado Atlanta. Weeks is putting together a great season, hitting .273 with 13 homers, 51 runs, and 47 RBI. Prado has led the league in batting average for most of the season, and has been a key cog in Atlanta's early success.
Just Missed: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati.
Starter: David Wright, NY Mets. The power is back - 14 homers to date - and he's still running and hitting. Clearly the best at his position in the NL.
Reserve: Scott Rolen, Cincinnati; Ryan Zimmerman, Washington. Never thought you'd see Rolen in another ASG, did you? Well, with a .302 average and 17 bombs, he's an obvious choice. Zimmerman is still the best young player on an unknown team (sorry, Mr. Strasburg, you're not quite there yet), hitting .283 with 13 HR and 40 RBI - and we need a National.
Just Missed: Casey McGehee, Milwaukee.
Starter: Hanley Ramirez, Florida. .296 average, 12 HR, 15 SB - and that's after a relatively slow start. Like Wright, he's the best at his position.
Reserve: Jose Reyes, NY Mets. Concerns about Reyes' production coming off an injury...look stupid now. He's got 19 swipes to go with a .277 average.
Just Missed: None.
Starters: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Colby Rasmus, St. Louis; Justin Upton, Arizona. Nobody really stands out as the top two or three, but I'll say: Braun's numbers are down slightly, but he's still at .295-11-49-49 and 11 steals. Rasmus is tops among NL outfielders in OPS, with 16 homers to go with a .274 average. Upton's batting average is down but his power and speed are not (.269-14-39-48 runs-11 SB)
Reserve: Corey Hart, Milwaukee; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh; Andre Ethier, Los Angeles; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado. Hart leads all NL OF with 18 home runs and 60 RBI. McCutchen is having a nice season with .297 and 19 steals, but he's here mostly because he's a Pirate. Ethier's injury diminishes his numbers a bit, but .312 with 12 homers gets him in. Gonzalez is a budding star, at .295-11-49 RBI-12 SB.
Just Missed: Matt Holliday, St. Louis.
Starter: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado. Can there be any doubt? He is an amazing 14-1, with a 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Reserves: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco; Josh Johnson, Florida; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis; Roy Halladay, Philadelphia; Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee; Chris Carpenter, St. Louis; Mat Latos, San Diego; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles. In any other season, Lincecum and Johnson would be compelling candidates to start - they've been amazing (especially Johnson, over the last two months). I'd love to have any of these guys on my team.
Just Missed: None, although a good case could be made for the Cubs' Carlos Silva, the Giants' Matt Cain, and the Mets' Mike Pelfrey.
Relief Pitchers: Brian Wilson, San Francisco; Carlos Marmol, Chicago; Heath Bell, San Diego; Matt Lindstrom, Houston. As in years past, there are many closers who could be taken. Wilson, Bell, and Marmol are easier choices; Lindstrom is here because we need an Astro.
Just Missed: Francisco Rodriguez, NY Mets; Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles.