MLB

Top 5 Strongest Positions Of 2013 AL All-Star Roster

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Top 5 Strongest Positions of the 2013 MLB All-Star Game AL Roster

All Stars
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The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is set for July 16 and Jim Leyland, the American League manager, has a fantastic group of players to work with.

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer makes his sixth appearance in the All-Star game, blasting his way through the voting with a batting average of .314 and eight home runs. One other catcher selected was Jason Castro from the Houston Astros. Looking at his numbers on the season, it seems likely that Castro only made the team because of the outdated rule that requires all teams to have at least one representative. As such, the catching position is weaker than it could be. Carlos Santana from the Cleveland Indians would have been a much better selection.

The shortstop position is probably the second-weakest position for Leyland’s team of elite players. Big hitting J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles gets the start over the Detroit Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta, despite Hardy’s average being 55 points lower. With very few RBIs between the two and not very much to brag about in any other offensive categories, the AL shortstops did not make the top-five list.

Claiming the Honorable Mention slot is the AL right field. The right corner boasts big home run hitters Jose Bautista and Nelson Cruz, who both rank in the AL top 10. Along with Torii Hunter, the group’s collective batting average is not quite close enough to .300 to crack the list.

Without further ado, I present to you the five strongest positions of the American League roster in this year’s All-Star Game.

Isaac Comelli is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @IsaacComelli, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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No. 5 Second Base

2nd
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The AL second basemen are a formidable group, featuring starter Robinson Cano. The two men who will relieve him are Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis. Kipnis is only a third-year player and has earned his first All-Star appearance. The group collectively hits .305, but only has 38 home runs combined. I know that second base is more known for quick, defensive hitters, but their power just is not strong enough to get above No. 5.

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No. 4 Center Field

Center
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Mike Trout from the Los Angeles Angels will be starting in center for the AL team and beat out Adam Jones of the Orioles. Although Trout is technically a left fielder, he has played the majority of this season in center due to injuries.

Trout leads all American League outfielders in batting average with a lofty .315. Jones also lands in the top 10 of that category and the two have combined for 117 RBIs on the season. With a strong average and enough pop to fill a 20-ounce glass, these two outfielders beat out their friends to the left and right to be the only outfield position on the list.

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No. 3 First Base

1st
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Starting out at first for the AL is the Orioles’ league-leading home run hitter, Chris Davis. The third Oriole to be selected to start in this game earned more votes than any other player in either league. Ranking third in batting average among all AL batters, first in home runs and second in RBI, it is no surprise that Davis garnered most of the voting attention. The heavy hitter’s only down fall is his penchant to strike out. Alas, he boasts astronomical totals and boosts their position to the No. 3 spot.

Davis is a tough act to follow, but the Tigers’ Prince Fielder does a fair enough job. I believe his popularity and performance from years past helped him nab the reserve spot, and having his own coach as the All-Star manager does not hurt either. His numbers, coupled with Davis’, are extremely impressive.

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No. 2 Third Base

3rd
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Leyland gets to coach his own third baseman, 2012 AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. As he leads the majors in batting average by a decent margin and trails Chris Davis by only a few home runs and leads in RBIs, Cabrera looks to potentially win the Triple Crown for an unprecedented second consecutive year.

Cabrera really did not need much help to climb up this list, but fellow third baseman Manny Machado, another Oriole, certainly holds his own. Hitting an impressive .312 with six home runs and 42 RBIs, Machado helps Cabrera get into the No. 2 spot.

Interestingly, Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics got snubbed despite having better stats than Machado in all three of the major categories. If Donaldson would have been voted in instead, I would have moved him and Cabrera to the No. 1 spot.

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No. 1 Pitcher

Pitcher
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The American League carries 14 pitchers into the All-Star game, all of whom are worthy of being mentioned. Alas, I will contain my enthusiasm and just mention a few of the best.

The Tigers’ Max Scherzer is easily one of the highlights in this group of elite performers. The big right-hander still shows off an untainted record of 13-0 and trails only fellow All-Star Yu Darvish for most strikeouts among AL Pitchers.

Hisashi Iwakuma joins teammate Felix Hernandez as the only two Seattle Mariners to make the All-Star Game. Both pitchers have worse records than they ought to as a result of the Mariners being 10 games below .500. But these two have pushed through and have performed with great success. Iwakuma leads the AL in both ERA and WHIP. Hernandez comes in right behind his teammate in ERA and is in the top-five among AL strikeout leaders.

Finally, the AL boasts the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. I would personally love to see Jim Leyland send Rivera out to close down the ninth inning as the retiring pitcher’s swansong. Do not be fooled. Rivera did not get his 13th All-Star nod based on his reputation and career performance. The 43-year-old has put together one of his best seasons with a 1.89 ERA and 29 saves made with only two blown.

With all of these powers combined, the AL pitching squad is a force to be reckoned with. Good luck, NL batters!