5 St. Louis Cardinals Who Deserve to Play in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game
5 Should-Be St. Louis Cardinals All-Stars
The St. Louis Cardinals, currently in possession of the MLB's best record at 47-29, have arguably the league's deepest talent pool. Their group of position players is constantly heralded as an “American League lineup”, capable of hitting for average pretty much all around and including a good number of power hitters. The team's pitching staff is tied for the majors' best ERA with a 3.21, which is incredible considering that they have used 22 different pitchers over the first three months. With all of this great play, it's difficult to determine which players are the most worthy of being National League All-Stars.
Several players will undoubtedly be advantaged or disadvantaged by the other talent around the league at their respective positions. One prime example is Carlos Beltran. The right fielder has been great this year, but he is probably only the fourth-best hitter on the team and isn't hitting quite as well as he did during the first half of last season, in which he hit 19 homers and hit .310 over the first three months before tanking in July. Beltran is, however, outperforming the majority of the outfielders in the National League. The three players ahead of him in batting average, Michael Cuddyer, Gerardo Parra, and Carlos Gomez, are not necessarily universal household names. His good performance plus his popularity has vaulted him to the top of NL outfield vote-getters, and he's a near-certainty to be at Citi Field in a few weeks.
On the other end of the spectrum, several Cardinals will end up being left out because of the positions they play. First baseman Allen Craig, who is third among Cardinals qualifiers with a .312 batting average, will be in trouble because of his competition at first. Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt are both locks to make the team, and it is likely that the Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo could be selected to fill his team's mandatory All-Star spot. It's difficult to see the NL carrying more than three first basemen, and Craig could be punished as a result.
Several pitchers may become victims of the roster crunch as well. Rookie setup-man Trevor Rosenthal trails only Jason Grilli, Aroldis Chapman, and Kenley Jansen (who are all closers) in strikeouts among relievers, and trails only Mark Melancon in holds. He would be a more deserving candidate than anyone if Bruce Bochy decides to take a non-closer for his bullpen.
Lance Lynn leads the National League in wins, but he's arguably the third-best starter on the team. He most definitely deserves to be an All-Star, but if there are too many starters and teams that need to be represented, Lynn could become a victim of his rather pedestrian 3.42 ERA.
No matter what happens, the Cardinals figure to be one of the most highly-represented teams in baseball at the game. It will be interesting to see who is deemed the most worthy and who won't make the cut. Here are the five Cardinals who most deserve to be All-Stars.
Yadier Molina, C
Molina not being an All-Star would be an absolute travesty. The soon-to-be 31-year-old catcher remains the best defensive player at his position. On top of that, he leads the NL batting title race with a .353 average and has been widely discussed as the National League's leading MVP candidate thus far. He may not have the clutch, game-changing ability of the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey, but he has certainly outperformed him in terms of numbers this year. Molina is now leading Posey by about 90,000 votes in fan balloting, so he probably will be the starting catcher for the National League.
Edward Mujica, RP
Mujica came out of nowhere to become the most reliable closer in the National League this year. After beginning the year as a middle reliever, he took advantage of Jason Motte's injury and Mitchell Boggs' horrid performance and is a perfect 21-for-21 in his save opportunities this year. The next-closest perfect closer is the Cubs' Kevin Gregg, who has only 11 saves. Hitters have only a .175 average versus Mujica, and he has been spectacularly efficient. He is a virtual lock to be on the All-Star team.
Matt Carpenter, 2B
Speaking of players coming out of nowhere, Matt Carpenter has been arguably the biggest surprise in baseball this year. After serving as a utility player last year, Carpenter was offered the chance to learn how to play second base and compete for the job in spring training. He has most definitely delivered, and in addition to his great offensive performance, he has adjusted to second very well, only having committed three errors thus far. He is hitting .322 with 21 doubles and is the most dynamic leadoff hitter in baseball. Though he has some tough competition in the Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips and the San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro, he has a pretty good chance of making his first All-Star team next month.
Adam Wainwright, RHP
Wainwright has been amazing this year, having fully rebounded from his Tommy John surgery to become the Cardinals' standalone ace this year. He has a 2.31 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, which put him right with the other top pitchers in the NL. His key advantage is that he has done this over 116.2 innings, more than any of the other starters among the National League's top-eight ERA leaders have thrown. Wainwright has fully re-asserted himself this year, and there would be few complaints if he was chosen as the starter for the National League.
Shelby Miller, RHP
There were high expectations for 22-year-old Shelby Miller, but very few anticipated that he would be this good, this soon. The righty has a 2.35 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and 101 strikeouts over 92 innings. His statistics are better than elite MLB starters such as Stephen Strasburg and Cliff Lee. Though he could be hurt by his rookie status and a few recent shaky starts, Miller is still a prime candidate to go to the All-Star game.