MLB

Top 5 Strongest Positions For 2013 NL All-Star Team

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Top 5 Strongest Positions of the 2013 NL All-Star Roster

Troy
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Bochy will lead the 2013 National League All-Star Team into battle against their American League opponents. The NL manager has quite a group to work with, featuring heavy hitters, speedsters, and dominant pitchers.

With the best of the best gathering together, someone has to be the worst of the best. This year’s NL All-Star squad is weakest at the second base position. The three players selected combine for an average of only 11 home runs, 40 RBIs and a batting average just below .300. Although these numbers would be a dream for any Joe Schmo, they do not compare to the rest of the All-Star team.

Second baseman Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals and Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants both hit above .300, but have less than average numbers in terms of home runs and RBIs. Cincinnati Reds’ Brandon Phillips is the opposite; he has power for days, but is batting only .265.

The group of players who just missed out on being in the top 5 is the NL shortstops. This is the oddest collection of team members in that the San Diego Padres’ Everth Cabrera and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Jean Segura both drag down fellow shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who represents the Colorado Rockies. The former two do rank first and third in stolen bases for the NL, respectively.

The fact that they drag him down may not be so surprising until you realize Tulowitzki has only played in 61 games compared to the 72 and 85 of his counterparts, yet has more home runs and RBIs than either. Tulowitzki’s .347 average, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs carried these three almost to the top 5, but not enough to crack it.

So let’s get started and rank the best of the best in the National League.

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No. 5 Catcher

Catcher
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I started off our list with the workhorse of any baseball team — the catcher position. These players take the most abuse all season long and are the unsung heroes. The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and Buster Posey of the Giants are truly the two best catchers in the NL right now.

Molina is currently hitting for a higher average than he ever has at .346, the highest of any player in the NL and second in the entire league. Posey is no slouch either, hitting for both average and power. Had Molina’s RBI and home run numbers been a bit higher, the catchers could have broken into the top three.

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No. 4 Pitcher

Pitcher
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The NL pitchers seem to get the job done in a less overbearing, but more efficient way than their AL counterparts. While the NL pitchers tend to have less strikeouts, they have much better statistics in terms of ERA and WHIP. If you saw my top 5 list of early leaders for the NL Cy Young award, the men I am about to mention will not be a huge surprise.

Leading all of MLB starters in these two categories is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ sole representative chosen thus far, Clayton Kershaw. His powerful fastball and filthy curve have earned the lefty a third straight All-Star selection. Only allowing 6.5 walks plus hits per start and with the only ERA below 2.00, Kershaw gets the job done night in and night out.

Not to be outdone, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets send Patrick Corbin and Matt Harvey respectively. Corbin boasts a 10-1 record and ranks in the top 10 for ERA and WHIP among all major league pitchers. Harvey is arguably the best pitcher in baseball this year, placing in the top three for ERA and WHIP and trails only one pitcher in strikeouts. The hometown ace is likely to get the start for the NL when they play the All-Star Game at the Mets’ stadium.

Finally, I call down to the bullpen for this season’s most dominant NL closer, Jason Grilli. The Pittsburgh Pirates ninth inning man has stopped teams in their tracks, saving 28 games while blowing only one save all year. He averages almost two strikeouts per every inning pitched and has a lower WHIP than Kershaw.

This group of hurlers will make for a very tough evening, even with the AL’s best hitters coming to the plate.

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No. 3 Left Field

Left
Benny Sieu-USA Today Sports

Returning to the position players, we have the NL left fielders coming in at No. 3. Getting the starting nod is the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez has had an amazing year, leading all NL outfielders in home runs and RBI while still ranking in the top five in average. His replacements will be Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper.

The group collective hits for about .286, the second-lowest average of all positions for the NL All-Stars, but makes up for it by averaging around 20 home runs and 51 RBIs each. That’s enough power to light up New York City at Christmas time.

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No. 2 Right Field

Right
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Staying in the outfield but flipping to the opposite corner, the ever-talented right fielders just missed out on the top of this list. The Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran gets the start for the team and will be followed by Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies. Oddly enough, Cuddyer’s numbers are just slightly better than Beltran’s, but the two together make a formidable offensive and defensive threat.

As a group, the right fielders average about 17 home runs and 51 RBIs, which is just a little bit worse than their left field counterparts. However, the guys in right are hitting an average of 42 points higher. Cuddyer leads all NL outfielders in average, second only to Yadier Molina in the NL.

Alas, these two did not have what it takes to blast into the top spot.

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No. 1 First Base

1st
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The champions of this list are the NL first basemen: Joey Votto of the Reds, Allen Craig of the Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks. Votto is the NL starter at first, which is mind-blowing to me considering the statistics. Both Goldschmidt and Craig have way more RBIs than Votto, Goldschmidt has six more home runs, and all three of their batting averages are comparable. Alas, I digress.

Collectively, these three can sure pack a punch, averaging 15 home runs and 61 RBIs. But they can also hit for average, which makes them a force to be reckoned with. They combine for a batting average of about .318, which is not something a pitcher wants to see out of guys who can drop 425-foot bombs. Not to ignore the defensive side, Goldschmidt and Craig are also contenders for Gold Gloves, each with a fielding percentage of .996 or higher and three errors or less on the season.

I cannot wait to see the NL All-Stars take on the AL and look forward to seeing these great first basemen knock the cover off the ball.