So, with the All-Star game upon us I thought I would take the time to go through and select who I felt was the best player at each position in each league. I will be selecting one player per position, including for pitcher, I will pick one Starting Pitchers and one Relief Pitcher in each league. I know it's not a perfect system, and it obviously would not make the best "practical" team, but that's how I'm going to it. It should be noted this is not necessarily my projection of who will be the starters on the All-Star team, but rather the players who I feel are most deserving of starting. I am also not taking into account the rules that one player from each team must be represented, only going by the numbers.
Today I'm going to be dealing with the American League.
Catcher - Alex Avila (DET)
Some people may be shocked to hear that so far this season Alex Avila has put up the best numbers for an American League Catcher. Sorry Joe Mauer fanboys, Avila's .304/.375/.542 slash-line is ridiculous for a catcher, and completely eclipses the horrible season Mauer is having. Avila's teammate Victor Martinez, who spends hardly time at Catcher these days, is the only other player who could be considered, with his .336/.385/.498 line. While Mauer is making a strong showing in the All-Star ballot based on name recognition, he certainly doesn't deserve to start over Avila.
First Base - Adrian Gonzalez (BOS)
No real surprise here. Adrian Gonzalez has taken to Fenway Park just as baseball pundits predicted. Gonzalez is leading all players in Hits (114), RBI (71), and Batting Average (.361), while playing almost every day. Mark Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera are the only other two AL First Basemen worthy of consideration, and Miguel Cabrera comes especially close -- until you take into consideration contributions on both sides of the ball.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
Gonzalez: .361/.415/.611 (1.026 OPS)
Teixeira: .247/.358/.538 (.896 OPS)
Cabrera: .332/.451/.572 (1.023 OPS)
Second Base - Robinson Cano (NYY)
In an off-year for AL Second Basemen, Cano is far ahead of the rest of the pack posting a .290/.334/.502 Slash-line. There is not another American League second baseman who is even close to approaching that this year. For purposes of comparison, Dustin Pedroia, has posted a .276/.391/.400 line, and he is second the American League in OPS for 2B.
Shortstop - Jhonny Peralta (DET)
Peralta will more than likely be overlooked for flashier shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to start the actual All-Star game, but the fact is that Peralta has been the best offensive Shortstop in the league. Here is a comparison of the two players:
Peralta: .311/.360/.531 good for an .891 OPS
Cabrera: .295/.346/.502 god for an OPS of .848.
While OPS certainly isn't everything - as Cabrera has stolen more bases and in fact has more Extra Base Hits than Peralta, Peralta still beats Cabrera in every slash-line category.
Third Base - Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
Rodriguez has certainly aged and is no longer the player he once was. But guess what? His production at Third Base has been best in the American League so far this year despite that. Rodriguez has posted a .300/.377/.513 line, and leads all American League Third Basemen in OPS and Batting Average. Many will suggest Adrian Beltre is more deserving of the slot based on his better power numbers and excellent defense - and they may be right, but I'm standing by Rodriguez as the best Third Baseman of the first half.
Right Field - Jose Bautista (TOR).
Jose Bautista has proven that last year was no fluke (this is probably the thirteehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnth time you've read that), perhaps even outdoing himself last year so far, posting a much better slash-line of .328/.469/.656. He is leading all MLB players in Home Runs, On-Base Percentage and Slugging -- and obviously in OPS. There is really no argument as to who else should play here.
Center Field - Curtis Granderson (NYY)
Curtis Granderson has finally been healthy for a full first half in New York, and has shown what he is capable of doing in that stadium, posting absolutely ridiculous numbers for a Center Fielder. He has a .276/.360/.572 slash-line and leads all Outfielders not named Jose Bautista in OPS and Home Runs. The only other player really in the running for this slot is Jacoby Ellsbury who has posted a very good .303/.365/.461 slash-line to go with his league-leading 25 Steals. Those numbers would have been enough for a starting slot in most seasons, but Granderson has made sure that doesn't happen.
Left Field - Alex Gordon (KCR)
There has not been a lot of impressive production out of Left Fielders this season, but former hot prospect Alex Gordon, who seems to finally be approaching his potential, has been the best. He has posted a .294/.363/.481 line and has pounded out an impressive 35 XBH.
Starting Pitcher - Justin Verlander (DET)
This is a difficult decision, partly imposed by my own limit of one player position, and partly because players like James Shields, Jered Weaver and Josh Beckett seem to be having career years (Year of the Pitcher II?) along with Verlander. However, I think Verlander has been marginally better than those three. Verlander leads the league in Innings Pitched, Strikeouts, and WHIP. His ERA is a touch higher than Beckett's or Weaver's, but he has down so in far more innings.
Closer - Mariano Rivera
Stop me if you've heard this before: Mariano Rivera just keeps producing. So far this season he has the lowest ERA among American League closers and is ranked second in Saves. Chris Perez is the next closest competitor, and his ERA is nearly a half-run higher than Mariano's.
Well, that's it for those. I realize my team ended up being extremely waited towards the New York Yankees (with 3 players), and the Detroit Tigers (with 3 players), but such things happen. There is a reason both teams are leading their divisions, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
I will try to post my National League All-Stars tomorrow night. Have a good one!