We are under a month away from the mid-summer classic, and we aren’t short of positional races when it comes to All-Star game. As we all know, the fans are pretty dumb in regards to selecting the right guys, so I decided to make my own 40-man roster of American League All-Stars. And as the great Ken Tremendous once said on Fire Joe Morgan, you can take your team while I take mine – and in 1,000 games – my team will win more than yours.
Let’s start with the bench.
Mike Moustakas – - Kansas City Royals
Mike Moustakas has been the one bright spot for the Kansas City Royals this season. He ranks first in fWAR among AL third basemen at 2.4
Michael Saunders & Kyle Seager – - Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners aren’t a very good team, but these two guys belong on the 40-man roster. Michael Saunders ranks third among AL centerfielders in fWAR – and unlike most Mariners – his fWAR isn’t fielding dependent. Kyle Seager is ranked second among AL third baseman in fWAR at 2.0. Considering he plays half of his games at Safeco Field, his .467 slugging percentage is pretty impressive. Overall, third base is pretty weak in the AL.
Josh Reddick & Ryan Cook – - Oakland A’s
The Andrew Bailey trade is pretty one-sided considering Josh Reddick is breaking out for the Oakland A’s. Reddick’s ISO is in the top-10 in the AL. Ryan Cook might have some control issues (5.14 BB/9), but his .64 ERA is pretty spectacular for a middle reliever.
Joe Mauer & Josh Willingham – - Minnesota Twins
The Twins might have overpaid for Joe Mauer, but he is still one of the better hitters in the American League. Mauer’s .406 OBP is second in the American League. Josh Willingham is proving to be one of the better off-season signings this past winter. The journeyman corner outfielder is having his best season to date, with an OPS of .971.
Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista & Brandon Morrow – - Toronto Blue Jays
E5 is no more. Edwin Encarnacion has reinvented himself into one of the better power hitters in the game this season. His 17 homers are good for sixth in the American League. Jose Bautista started out slow, but he has hit 16 home runs over his last 40 games, which is good for an OPS over 1.000. Plus, Bautista’s versatility is nice to have in an All-Star game. Unfortunatly for Brandon Morrow, he strained his oblique recently, and he probably won’t be healthy enough to pitch. But he does deserve the nod.
Jason Kipnis, Chris Perez & Asdrubal Cabrera – - Cleveland Indians
There isn’t much to say about Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera other than that they are quality middle infielders who deserve to be a part of the team. Chris Perez leads the world in saves, so that has to count for something, right?
Matt Joyce, David Price & Fernando Rodney – - Tampa Bay Rays
If you didn’t know, Matt Joyce is really awesome. His .288/.397/.532/.929 slash-line is something that gives any SABR-nerd a fuzzy feeling inside. David Price is quietly having a great season for the Rays. I don’t think there is any doubt that he is the team’s true ace. No one knows why/how Fernando Rodney is doing as well as he is, but you can’t argue with results.
Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, CJ Wilson & Scott Downs – - Los Angeles Angels
There’s no doubt that Mike Trout is otherworldly right now, but I can’t start him just yet. It’s not like he won’t make multiple All-Star games in the future, anyways. Mark Trumbo is one of the two guys that are proving me wrong in a big way this season. We will talk more about the other guy in a little bit. CJ Wilson is proving he was worth all the money the Angels gave him this winter. And lastly, Scott Downs allowed his first run of the season this week, so that’s pretty spectacular.
Alright, that’s all the teams/players who don’t have a starting player. Now, we will look at teams who have starting players, but bench players as well.
Derek Jeter & CC Sabathia – - New York Yankees
The Yankees don’t have a lot of All-Stars this season, but they do have a lot of good players. However, Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia deserve to make the team. Although Derek Jeter’s fielding statistics are downright embarrassing, his bat is still there in a big way.
Austin Jackson & Justin Verlander – - Detroit Tigers
Austin Jackson was well on his way to start for this AL All-Star team, but a DL stint hurt his chances. Justin Verlander has the higher WAR among starting pitchers. But given that he throws an inordinate amount of innings due to his bionic arm, I don’t really care about his WAR. He can enter the game in the third inning.
Joe Nathan & Ian Kinsler – - Texas Rangers
I honestly had no idea how well Joe Nathan was doing for the Rangers, but that signing has paid dividends for Texas. Ian Kinsler isn’t doing anything really well, but he is doing everything pretty well. Second base is pretty weak outside of Cano and Kipnis this season.
Jake Peavy & Adam Dunn – - Chicago White Sox
Talk about a resurgence. Jake Peavy is pitching about as well as anyone in the American League. Not that W-L records matter, but Peavy’s two losses are from the 1-0 variety. Adam Dunn is back in a big way this season, clubbing 21 home runs. #TeamDunn
Matt Wieters, Jason Hammel & Jim Johnson – - Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles are one of the better stories in 2012, and the team isn’t short of All-Stars. Matt Wieters has been one of the better catchers in the league. And Jason Hammel and Jim Johnson have been two pitchers the team can count on at the start and end of ball games on a consistent basis.
There are the reserves. Without further adieu, here is your starting lineup for the American League.
1.CF Alejandro De Aza - – Chicago White Sox
Alejandro De Aza has been the AL’s most consistent leadoff hitter. Coming into today, De Aza is in the top-10 in important leadoff hitting categories like OBP, runs, and stolen bases. His 2.4 fWAR is third among AL centerfielders.
2. LF Josh Hamilton – - Texas Rangers
I’m not going into detail about this selection. We all know how awesome he has been.
3. RF Adam Jones – - Baltimore Orioles
Remember how I mentioned there have been two players proving me wrong this year? Well, Adam Jones is the other. When I did my top ten centerfielders coming into the season, I left Jones out of my top 10. Oops.
4. 1B Paul Konerko – - Chicago White Sox
Paulie is like a fine wine; gets better with age. While Josh Hamilton is having a spectacular season, Paul Konerko leads him in wRC+ by four. That’s how good Paul Konerko has been.
5. DH David Ortiz – - Boston Red Sox
Yes, Big Papi is the only Red Sox player I have making the AL All-Star team. His .307/.389/.589/.978 slash-line proves he isn’t finished yet.
6. 3B Miguel Cabrera – - Detroit Tigers
Miggy’s glove has been suspect, but his bat hasn’t left him. The fact I have him hitting sixth in this line-up is downright scary.
7. 2B Robinson Cano – - New York Yankees
Robinson Cano should be the starting second baseman for the American League this season. However, he is having one of the most bizzare seasons to date. Even though his numbers look fantastic, he has a .515 OPS with RISP. Yikes.
8. C AJ Pierzysnki – - Chicago White Sox
I know it seems like overkill with the White Sox players, but you can’t tell me AJ Pierzynski hasn’t been the best catcher in the American League this season. He leads the AL in fWAR for catchers, and his 1.122 OPS with RISP is part of the reason why he is having his best season to date.
9. SS Elvis Andrus – - Texas Rangers
Elvis and Jeter are having similar seasons offensively, but that’s where the comparison ends. Andrus’ slick fielding puts him ahead of Jeter.
SP Chris Sale – - Chicago White Sox
Chris Sale leads the AL in wins and ERA. And if it wasn’t for the little predictament he had with his “tender elbow” he could be leading the league in strikeouts as well. He only trails Verlander in terms of fWAR – because as I said – Verlander has a lot more innings under his belt.
There you have it, folks. My 2012 AL All-Star team. Feel free to disagree, but I feel this team is pretty damn good if I say so myself.
Bryan is a featured writer for Rant Sports. Although he concentrates mostly on the game of baseball, you can find him covering things all over the Rant Sports Network.