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James' 2007 All-Star Game Selections
by James Deaux (MLB)
Posted on July 1, 2007, 2:40 AM

Based on the fan vote tabulations as they stand right now, I'd say that the American League might just slaughter the National League so badly that they will have to invoke the mercy rule. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game has its faults (mostly due to a certain commissioner), but that is not what I am here to discuss. I always love All-Star selection time because it's fun to see how many of my beloved Braves make it onto the roster, but also to see how many players overall made it there when they might not necessarily have "deserved" to--a subjective term, I admit, but these are my opinions, right? How else am I to ridicule the "one person from every team" idiocy? Not only that, but how many players are going to start for their respective league just because of the popularity contest known as All-Star voting? Oh, well. Some things never change (like the home-field advantage lunacy), but let's get to my selection show:

***Note: I base my rosters around those who I feel deserve to be there. I am not taking the "every team must be represented" rule into account. Besides, is there really a Texas Ranger that deserves to be an All-Star this year? However, I do honor a 32-man roster limit. Things would get goofy in a hurry if I started taking 40 and 45 people, ya' know?

National League


Catcher--Amazingly, the catcher's spot in the NL has been very deep so far this season. Most of the outstanding NL catchers so far this year are west of the Mississippi River; and out in L.A., they have one of the premiere young catching phenoms in the game in Russell Martin. Right now, Martin ranks ninth in the NL with 51 RBI and is 11th in stolen bases (a base-stealing catcher always garners extra points in my book) with 13. As for the backup, I have to go with Bengie Molina. He'll have the hometown support in San Francisco, and he pretty much deserves to be there with a decent .283/7/39 clip. That Paul Lo Duca is likely going to be elected as starter is an absolute joke at this point. I wouldn't even have him in my top 5.

Starter: Russell Martin
Reserve: Bengie Molina
Just missed the cut: Johnny Estrada

First Baseman--This one is a no-brainer to me. Cecil Fielder's boy, Prince, has been an absolute beast at the plate this year, leading the NL with 27 home runs and a .619 slugging percentage. Since first base is such a deep position, I think it's understandable to take 4 first basemen on my roster. Derrek Lee gives you the complete package with speed, defense, power and a high BA, Todd Helton doesn't know how to strike out, and Dmitri Young has been one of those "feel-good" stories this year (plus, he gives your roster a .330 switch hitter off the bench in late scoring situations). Sorry, Albert, it just wasn't your year.

Starter: Prince Fielder
Reserves: Derrek Lee, Todd Helton, Dmitri Young
Just missed the cut: Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra

Second Baseman--But speaking of no-brainers, let's talk about the best second baseman in all of baseball. Chase Utley ranks second in the NL with 66 RBI and a .997 OPS, 4th in batting average and on-base percentage with a .331 and .412 respectively, and has scored the 4th-most runs of anyone in the league with 58. The reserve is as close to a moot point as it comes; but you have to have one, so I'll give the spot to Kelly Johnson because he's had one of the most unexpectedly solid seasons of anyone in the game this year.

Starter: Chase Utley
Reserve: Kelly Johnson
Just missed the cut: Orlando Hudson, Brandon Phillips

Third Baseman--David Wright is going to start at third for the NL, but who is beating him in batting average, OBP, hits, home runs and RBI? Miguel Cabrera would be the answer. As such, he should be the starter. His batting average is 38 points higher than Wright's, and has four more homers and twelve more RBI than DW. And I'm afraid that Aramis Ramirez has had a better year than Wright, as well. As such, he gets the backup spot. Chipper Jones might have made it were it not for missing three weeks with wrist injuries.

Starter: Miguel Cabrera
Reserves: Aramis Ramirez
Just missed the cut: David Wright, Chipper Jones

Shortstop--This was maybe the hardest position on either side for me to choose because the NL is waist-deep in great shortstops this year. Jose Reyes still gets my starting nod just because he is one of the best (if not, the best) leadoff men in the game and can absolutely wreak havoc on the basepaths. I knew it would come down to about four or five guys for my two backup spots, and for those spots, I went with two other NL East shortstops in Edgar Renteria (leads NL shortstops with a .328 BA) and Hanley Ramirez (.322/11/27 and 23 SB). Despite his hitting streak, J.J. Hardy has crashed back to earth following an ungodly first two months, so he just misses out. And despite Jimmy Rollins' overall solid play, he just hasn't been as good as any of the three who I picked. His .334 OBP is only 7th best out of the 12 shortstops in the NL who qualify.

Starter: Jose Reyes
Reserves: Edgar Renteria, Hanley Ramirez
Just missed the cut: J.J. Hardy, Jimmy Rollins

Outfielders--Sadly, this year has been pretty rough on NL outfielders. There are very, very few who stand out among all the others. But one of them is Matt Holliday, who is having an absolutely ridiculous year, but is just 10th in NL outfielders in the All-Star balloting. Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran is having as unremarkable a year as anybody (.270/10/44), but somehow leads the entire National League in voting. Holliday's .350 BA is 33 points higher than the next closest NL outfielder. Barry Bonds also makes it, despite my overall disdain for him. The game is in San Francisco, and he has a 1.081 OPS. There is no reason he shouldn't be there to at least get a pinch-hit appearance, if nothing else. Another NL West outfielder has been having quite an exciting year--the crash test dummy, himself, Eric Byrnes. Byrnes is another one of those 5-tool guys who is great to have play a lot of innings for you (as is Aaron Rowand). I'm also including Griffey because he has managed to stay healthy and has had a very solid year (.290/21/50). Alfonso Soriano gets my final OF spot.

Starters: Carlos Lee, Matt Holliday, Barry Bonds
Reserves: Ken Griffey, Jr., Alfonso Soriano, Aaron Rowand
Just missed the cut: Willy Taveras, Willie Harris, Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez

Starting Pitcher--For the NL starting job, it came down to two NL West guys--Jake Peavy and Brad Penny. Really, you can't go wrong with either one, but I gave the nod to Jake Peavy based on one thing--composure. Jake Peavy is as cool, calm, and collected a young pitcher as you can find anywhere. He also has 43 more K's than Penny. Quick quiz: When Brad Penny started the All-Star Game last year, how many off-speed pitches did he throw? If you guessed zero, you are correct. His adrenaline sometimes manages to get out of control, and that isn't a good thing. Worry not, he obviously still makes the team because, well, just LOOK at those numbers. I think he'd be better suited to come into the game in the third inning or later because there won't be as much pressure. Chris Young will join his teammate, Peavy, at the big game, and Derek Lowe will join Penny. Meanwhile on the East Coast, I've taken John Smoltz and Tim Hudson from the Braves, who have combined for 25 quality starts. John Maine earns a spot from their rivals, the Mets, and Cole Hamels squeaks in from Philly. From the Central, I'll take Ian Snell and Ben Sheets from the Pirates and Brewers respectively.

Starter: Jake Peavy
Reserves: John Smoltz, Cole Hamels, Tim Hudson, John Maine, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Derek Lowe, Brandon Webb, Ian Snell
Just missed the cut: Roy Oswalt, Aaron Harang, Tom Gorzelanny, Jason Marquis, Rich Hill

Relief Pitchers--This was as tough a decision as any, because I can't very well take more than 3 closers. But there are easily at least six relievers in the NL who deserve to go. Siato is a no-brainer. He has an 18:1 K/BB ratio, for crying out loud. Francisco Cordero has slowed a bit from his ridiculous pace earlier, but is still one of the top closers in the NL right now. Billy Wagner makes the final spot just barely over Velverde and Hoffman because you need a lefty fireballer like him.

Selections: Takashi Saito, Francisco Cordero, Billy Wagner
Just missed the cut: Jose Valverde, Trevor Hoffman, Rafael Soriano

American League


Catcher--As outstanding as A-Rod has been this year, Jorge Posada might have a case at being the MVP of the Yankees (you know, when they were still a factor in the AL East race, that is). Posada leads all major league catchers with a .339 batting average and a .408 OBP. However, Victor Martinez, oddly enough, has a distinct edge in baserunners thrown out and overall defense. He also has better power numbers than Jorge. I'll let them both go with V-Mart getting the starting nod.

Starter: Victor Martinez
Reserve: Jorge Posada
Just missed the cut: Kenji Johjima, Joe Mauer

First Baseman--Everyone, say it with me: "David Ortiz is NOT a first baseman." There. Doesn't it feel better to come to grips with reality? Fear not, Papi still gets a spot on the roster. I'd be an idiot to exclude him. However, his teammate, Kevin Youkilis is a very good first baseman, and he warrants the starting position because he can play defense (you know, with it being an NL park and all). The pair of Sox will be joined by Justin Morneau, despite that scary collision at home plate 10 days ago. He's having as good a season as anyone.

Starter: Kevin Youkilis
Reserves: David Ortiz, Justin Morneau
Just missed the cut: Casey Kotchman

Second Baseman--This is another extremely difficult decision to make because the AL has a plethora of great second basemen this year. B.J. Upton's maturation is nothing short of remarkable. Brian Roberts is still an on-base and stolen base machine. And Placido Polanco is getting some due love from the voters. I wouldn't have him starting, mind you, but he definitely goes to the dance. Since Upton has gone on the DL, I've given the starting job to Roberts, but Upton might have run away with it otherwise. (*If Upton stays on the DL, Jose Lopez takes his spot on my roster.)

Starter: Brian Roberts
Reserves: B.J. Upton*, Placido Polanco
Just missed the cut: Jose Lopez, Luis Castillo

Third Baseman--Yeah, this one was hard. The only decision I had to make here was who to take as the backup, and even that wasn't exactly a tough call.

Starter: Alex Rodriguez
Reserve: Mike Lowell
Just missed the cut: Casey Blake

Shortstop--What truly amazes me about the Yankees is that they have so many guys hitting above .330 (along with some good starting pitching of late) and yet they sit at three games under .500. Nevertheless, Jeter easily warrants the start. It was tough to leave out Brendan Harris, because the kid is having a great year, but Cabrera and Guillen have both been just a little better.

Starter: Derek Jeter
Reserves: Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Guillen
Just missed the cut: Brendan Harris, Michael Young, Miguel Tejada*

Outfielders--Unlike the NL outfield, the AL outfield is going to have players who get voted into a starting spot by the fans that actually deserve to be starting. Magglio Ordonez isn't going to hit .380 the rest of the year, but he is definitely a top MVP candidate right now. Ichiro is typical Ichiro with a .364 BA and 22 stolen bases. And Vlad the Impaler leads all major league outfielders with 69 RBI. My four reserve outfielders all have one thing in common--speed, and lots of it. They have combined for 62 stolen bases. Torii Hunter is going to get one enormous contract after this year if he keeps up his current pace in, well, everything. One notable name missing from my all-stars is Manny Ramirez. He is my Albert Pujols of the AL for this selection column--a perennial All-Star who just didn't put up his typical numbers. He only has 11 homers and 43 RBI right now--both very low for him. If Reggie Willits had had as many at-bats as my other selections, I would have considered him more seriously.

Starters: Magglio Ordonez, Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero
Reserves: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore
Just missed the cut: Manny Ramirez, Reggie Willits

Starting Pitchers--The American League pitching staff is going to be just stupidly good this year. We're talking about historically good. Every pitcher I list below (whether they made the cut or not) has an ERA below 3.87 and has pitched at least 88 innings. If I were the the National League team, I would be very, very afraid. Despite the overall depth of the starters pool in the AL, picking the ASG starter was pretty easy. Dan Haren (9-2) is my Cy Young so far. He has allowed 8 hits or less in all but one start this year and leads all AL pitchers with a microscopic 1.91 ERA. I don't even think I need to justify any of the other picks I've made. I mean, honestly. Just look that that pitching staff. The only questionable one I might have is Gil Meche (5-6/3.28/1.29) but how can you not include him? He's the Kelly Johnson of the AL.

Starter: Dan Haren
Reserves: Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, John Lackey, C.C. Sabathia, Johan Santana, James Shields, Erik Bedard, Kelvim Escobar, Gil Meche
Just missed the cut: Jeremy Guthrie, Mark Buerhle, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Joe Blanton

Relief Pitchers--A relatively unknown closer among casual fans, J.J. Putz easily earns my top reliever spot (if there is a such a thing) on my roster. He is 22 for 22 in save opportunities and has an ERA under 1. Jonathan Papelbon makes it with his .146 BAA and 1.55 ERA, and K-Rod earns a spot with a sparkling 7/2 K/BB ratio.

Selections: J.J. Putz, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez
Just missed the cut: Joe Nathan, Al Reyes

Well, there you have it. Three teams didn't warrant a selection for my rosters--the Blue Jays, White Sox (though Buerhle is very close) and the Rangers. Discuss my selections and your own on the forums. Come on, you know you want to rip my decisions to shreds. Well, DO IT.



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