It is almost time for the All-Star rosters to be announced and that means it is time to post the players that I think should be starting in the Mid-Summer Classic. There are some tight races in the balloting but lucky enough for me I don't have to stick to what the ballots are saying.
Here is the look at my starters for the American League and the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.
2012 American League All-Star Ballot
C: Joe Mauer, Twins- He ranks in the top five for batting average and he is near the top of the list for highest on-base percentage in the entire American League. It looks like Mike Napoli is going to easily win the fan voting and his postseason last year was very good. According to fWAR, Napoli is only the fifth best catcher in the AL and Mauer ranks number one.
1B: Paul Konerko, White Sox- He is off to a tremendous start in the 2012 for the White Sox and he ranks in the top two in the AL in batting average and OBP. There are some other candidates in the AL like Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols but Konerko deserves the start. At 36-years old, it would be cool for him to get a start in an All-Star game in the Midwest since he has played his entire career in that region.
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees- There are some very good candidates in the American League at second base but Cano is clearly the best among the group. He plays outstanding defense and combines this with a powerful swing. In recent weeks, he has looked like the best hitter in the American League. The 2011 Home Run Derby Champion will be defending his title as the AL Team Captain in the event for 2012.
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers- Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie might be fighting over this All-Star spot in the coming years. But for right now, there are a couple of veteran players that deserve the honor. Miguel Cabrera has moved back to third base and he is considered one of the best hitters in the game. My vote goes to Beltre for his overall performance at the plate and in the field.
SS: Elvis Andrus, Rangers- It seems like the AL shortstop position will belong to Derek Jeter until he decides to retire. That's fine for one of the most consistent players of the current generation. His defense pulls down his value at shortstop and he didn't even want to show up at the game last year so I am looking at other candidates. Andrus and Beltre combine for quite the left side of the infield for the Rangers and they should both be starting in Kansas City.
OF: Mike Trout, Angels- Trout is having an MVP caliber season for the Los Angeles Angels and he is only 20-years old. The rookie outfield has shown tremendous speed, defense, and power after starting the year in the minor leagues. The biggest downfall to his All-Star resume is the fact that he isn't on the ballot. Fans will have to write his name in but he could get voted in as a reserve player.
OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers- For the first portion of the season, the Rangers looked like they were going to run away with the American League title for the third year in a row. Since that time, they have come back down to earth but they are still having a very good campaign. In a team full of very good players, Hamilton is near the top of the list which is good for him since he will be a free agent at the end of the year.
OF: Adam Jones, Orioles- The Orioles have been sneaking around near the top of the division in the AL East for most of the season. Mr. Jones has been one of the biggest reasons for some of the team's success with some very good offensive numbers. He plays center field during the season; but in this outfield, he could move to a corner spot and let Trout take over the center field duties.
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox- Even with all of the craziness in Boston, Ortiz is on pace to have his best season hitting for power since 2007. Michael Young is piling up some votes since it seems that fans from the Rangers are stuffing the ballot boxes. This spot should still belong to Oritz but it is interesting to see Adam Dunn in third after his terrible season last year.
SP: Justin Verlander, Tigers- The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner doesn't have as many wins in 2012 but he is still having a very good year. Chris Sale and CC Sabathia could also be considered for the starting job but Verlander would be the front runner on my ballot. Over the last full season, he has been the best pitcher in the league.
2012 National League All-Star Ballot
C: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies- The fans look to be in favor of starting one of the last two World Series winning catcher behind the plate, Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, which are still good choices. On the other hand, Ruiz has been outstanding in a Phillies line-up that has been full of injuries this season. It would be a shame to see Ruiz left off of the NL roster but there are some very good catchers in the Senior Circuit.
1B: Joey Votto, Reds- He might be the best hitter in the entire game of baseball and there should be no doubt about him starting at first base. Many of the other big names from the NL at first base have shifted to the AL. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez have all left for bigger markets and this leave Votto as the hands down candidate for the next few years.
2B: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks- How can Dan Uggla and his .240 batting average be leading the vote for second base? That just seems wrong and his power numbers aren't much better than the rest of the field. At a weak position in the NL, I will give the nod to Hill. He isn't even in the top five in the fan balloting but he has the highest BA, OBP, and OPS of all second baseman in the NL.
3B: David Wright, Mets- The Mets have surprised a lot of people by still being in contention at this point in the season. It helps to have some outstanding pitching from RA Dickey but Wright looks to be an MVP candidate at third base. His home run total has been lower since the Mets moved to Citi Field but he seems to have adjusted to his new home and he is in the hunt for the batting title.
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs- Much like at second base in the NL, there are no standout candidates at shortstop. Jed Lawrie is leading in fWAR and he is helped by his 14 home runs but doing this on a team in Houston isn't helping his cause. Troy Tulowitzki has missed a chunk of the year with an injury. Castro sits near the top at this position in a variety of categories so he gets my vote.
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers- After his MVP performance last year, Braun is not showing any ill effects from his steroid situation and the loss of Prince Fielder. His production has been among the best in the NL even with some nagging injuries throughout the season. While Matt Kemp has missed time with his injuries, Braun has fought through his pain and been in the line-up for most of the year.
OF: Michael Bourn, Braves- Three of the Braves starting outfielders could be up for the starting job in the All-Star Game with Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, and Bourn playing at a very high level. Bourn has used his speed to be a threat on the base paths and he ranks second to Braun in the fWAR for outfielders in the NL. If Matt Kemp wasn't hurt, this spot would likely go to him but an injury to Kemp means that someone else has to take his place.
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates- For the second year in a row, the Pirates are surprising some people with their first half play in the NL Central. The man powering the Pirates on the offensive side of the ball is Mr. McCutchen. After signing a big contract extension in the offseason, he is showing his team that he was worth the money by putting together his best season as a professional.
SP: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals- There are quite a few National League hurlers having outstanding seasons so it is going to be tough for Tony La Russa to pick out the man on the mound for the first couple of innings. RA Dickey has been on an incredible run, Matt Cain threw a perfect game, and Zack Greinke is in the middle of another fantastic season. If MLB wants to add a little more excitement to the game, Strasburg should be the man and it helps that he is having a Cy Young caliber season for one of the best teams in the NL.