Down the stretch they come!
Well, at least as far as voting goes for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game in New York City. There can be some debate over who should make the club. Some voters like to pick out the players that have had the best first half of a season in 2013. Others look at the last calendar year and try and pick out the rosters based on those performances.
Today I break down the American League roster. There are some tough decisions at a couple positions but there are some ways to break the ties. Take a look at my picks and leave a comment with your roster.
Other Candidates: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians; Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
One of the easiest picks in the AL might be the man behind the plate. Mauer easily has the highest WAR among catchers this season and that also holds true for his WAR over the last calendar year. Santana might be the only other man that deserves a chance to start. He hits for a little bit more power than Mauer but the nod should still go to the Twins backstop. Matt Wieters has been a solid player on a good team in the last year but his batting average is pretty low.
First Base: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Other Candidates: Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers; Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
It has been quite the first half of the year for Mr. Chris Davis. He is on pace to hit over 60 home runs and in the last calendar year he has the highest WAR among AL first basemen. Prince Fielder might be the better known name on the list and Albert Pujols could also be in consideration. Edwin Encarnacion might be a surprise person to consider but in the last 12 months he has a higher WAR than Fielder and he has hit 43 home runs. He is actually on the ballot as a DH but I will slide him into this spot since he has started 45 games there in 2013.
Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Other Candidates: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox; Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians
This is a tough pick because Cano and Pedroia's value over the last calendar year has been almost identical. Cano hits for more power and Pedroia hits for a higher average. On the defensive side of the ball, Pedroia is probably the better defender so some people might consider him the front-runner. As Twins fans saw earlier this week, Cano can be a one-man wrecking crew in a sub-par Yankee line-up. With many of the other star hitters on the DL, Cano has compiled some great numbers in the first half and he should get the start in New York.
Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Other Candidates: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles; Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
There has been a lot of hype around Machado and his tremendous first half. Unfortunately, he plays the same position as the defending AL MVP and Cabrera is having another tremendous season at the plate. He might be the best hitter in all of baseball and he could be fighting for another Triple Crown if Chris Davis ever slows down his home run total. Machado might be the wave of the future at third base in the AL but he will have to wait to make his first start at the hot corner.
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
Other Candidates: JJ Hardy, Baltimore Orioles; Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics
Out of all of the positions in the American League, this might be the weakest one for picking out a starter. Hardy will probably win the fan voting and end up the starter. The Orioles fans have been very good to some of their candidates this season. Peralta and Hardy have put together similar numbers over the last calendar year so it is a tough call. My vote goes to Peralta but it was another tough pick at a middle infield position.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Other Candidates: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals; Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
DH is such a weird position because fans don't get to pick out a DH from the National League. This can be a benefit to the NL because the manager can just slide a good hitter into the role. As far as the AL goes, Ortiz might be locked into this spot until he retires. Last season, Butler had a good story with the game being played in Kansas City but he won't have the hometown crowd to back him in NYC. After the famous speech in Boston by Ortiz, all of Red Sox nation has been out in force to vote for one of the leaders on their team.
Outfielders: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels; Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Other Candidates: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays; Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers; Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox
Mike Trout is probably one of the easiest picks for this team. He had a tremendous season last year and he continues to put up solid numbers in his sophomore campaign. The list gets a little dicey after that point. Adam Jones is going to get voted in by the fans and I am fine with that pick. He has become the face of the franchise for a Baltimore team that continues to surprise people in the AL East.
Picking the last outfielder was the toughest spot for me on this AL squad. Bautista is having a bounce-back season, Hunter continues to play well with his aging body, and Ellsbury was an MVP candidate before some injuries last season. I picked Cespedes because he provides an interesting dynamic to the game. He appeals to the international audience even though his home country wouldn't be able to watch the game. Also, the A's have been near the top of their division and they deserve a starter.
That wraps up my picks for the starting line-up. Who would make your team? Leave a COMMENT and start your discussion.