Tuesday, July 1, 2008

National League All Star Selections

Yesterday I went through the American League All Star selections and discussed the criteria for my selections. I am not going to go through that again with the NL, you can look at yesterday's post for my methodology. Today I'm just going to get right to the picks.

[All statistics are through June 30, 2008]


It wasn't too long ago that the catcher position was a weak spot in the National Leauge, but in the last couple of years there has been a renaissance at the position with some of the best hitters in the league playing catcher. Here is the list of candidates:

Brian McCann - .295/.365/.536 - 14 hr, 45 rbi
Russell Martin - .307/.404/.444 - 8 hr, 37 rbi, 7 sb
Geovany Soto - .281/.367/.513 - 13 hr, 47 rbi

Ryan Doumit - .346/.391/.622 - 10 hr, 25 rbi

I set Doumit apart because he missed about twenty games while he was on the DL. His statistics are fantastic, but he's been limited to only 156 at bats, which is just more than half of what the other candidates have logged (which actually makes the homerun total more impressive).

McCann and Martin are just about a toss up for the catcher's spot on the team and Soto isn't far behind. You get a bit more power with McCann and a bit more OBP and speed from Martin. Both are solid behind the plate and you can't really go wrong with either choice. I would take McCann because his edge in power is larger than Martin's edge in OBP. Neither have an edge in the 'legacy' category, as they have pretty similar performance histories.

First Base

Because the All Star Game is being played in an American League park this season, the NL will get to utilize a DH in the starting lineup, which is good for the NL, because the two best hitters in the league both play first base. Here are the candidates:

Lance Berkman - .365/.448/.699 - 22 hr, 68 rbi, 12 sb
Albert Pujols - .357/.482/.635 - 17 hr, 47 rbi, 2 sb
Adrian Gonzalez - .288/.358/.530 - 21 hr, 68 rbi
Mark Teixeira - .276/.379/.495 - 16 hr, 62 rbi

This is obviously a two man race. Berkman and Pujols are both putting up MVP caliber seasons to this point. Pujols is a bit behind on the counting statistics because he spent 15 days on the DL with a leg injury, but Berkman's rate statistics are probably a tick better than Pujols' anyway. Berkman's twelve stolen bases are already a career-high, and they are surprising for a guy that once called himself "Fat Elvis". Pujols probably has the edge in 'legacy' as a former MVP winner, but Berkman is the right choice, regardless.

Second Base

Before I had looked at the numbers, I thought this position was a no-brainer, but it is a lot closer than I had thought (although my original thought was the right one). Here is the list:

Chase Utley - .297/.384/.610 - 23 hr, 65 rbi, 7 sb
Dan Uggla - .289/.375/.620 - 23 hr, 58 rbi, 4 sb

Utley would have won the MVP last season if he hadn't missed some time towards the end of the season due to injury. He started this season on fire - hitting eleven homers in March/April, then slowing down considerably in May (8 hr, .259/.354/.537) and June (4 hr, .266/.364/.511) which allowed Uggla to start to catch him statistically with a torrid May (12 hr, .347/.425/.827). I think Utley still gets the nod, but it is much closer than I would have thought. Utley might have a slight edge in the 'legacy' category, but they both have a pretty decent history of performance.

Third Base

Chipper Jones - .394/.485/.630 - 16 hr, 46 rbi, 2 sb
Aramis Ramirez - .289/.390/.502 - 14 hr, 55 rbi
David Wright - .283/.376/.492 - 15 hr, 64 rbi, 8 sb

Chipper is having a historically good season, which is only tempered by his inability to stay healthy. He has already missed twelve games with various nagging injuries, but any time he is in the lineup he has hit and hit for power. Expectations are so high for David Wright that his performance to this point is seen as a little bit of a disappointment. Wright should have won the MVP last season and he is one of the best players in the National League, but there should be nothing disappointing about the numbers above, no matter who you are.


There are two wonderfully talented young shortstops in the National League and they are joined by an over-the-hill player that has somehow raised his game to levels no one expected. Here is the list:

Hanley Ramirez - .296/.384/.536 - 19 hr, 36 rbi, 20 sb
Jose Reyes - .292/.354/.478 - 9 hr, 34 rbi, 28 sb
Christian Guzman - .314/.342/.434 - 5 hr, 27 rbi, 3 sb

Now, Guzman shouldn't really get any votes above Ramirez or Reyes, but I just have to mention him here. I wrote about his history a bit in an earlier post, so I won't go into it again, but everyone thought he was washed up two years ago and now he is playing better (at age 30) than he has ever played in his life. Pretty amazing.

Ramirez is one of the best young offensive players in the game, but is absolutely brutal defensively. He will almost certainly be moved to the outfield at some point in the near future. For now, though, he gets my vote for the All Star team because his offensive advantages over Reyes overcome his defensive deficiencies.


The NL outfield is a bit odd this season. There aren't any big name players dominating and making the choice an easy one and most of the candidates have some flaw that keeps them from being an automatic vote. Here is the list of contenders:

Pat Burrell - .271/.410/.571 - 19 hr, 49 rbi
Jason Bay - .284/.387/.531 - 16 hr, 43 rbi, 6 sb
Carlos Beltran - .271/.374/.479 - 12 hr, 54 rbi, 11 sb
Ryan Ludwick - .285/.362/.574 - 16 hr, 56 rbi, 4 sb
Ryan Braun - .282/.317/.544 - 20 hr, 58 rbi, 8 sb
Nate McLouth - .280/.359/.522 - 15 hr, 52 rbi, 9 sb
Kosuke Fukudome - .296/.404/.430 - 6 hr, 34 rbi, 7 sb

That's an odd looking group to be discussing for All Star berths, right? Carlos Beltran is the biggest star on the list and his numbers aren't necessarily eye-popping. Burrell's numbers are great and he has some history of this kind of performance in his career, but he has been very inconsistent from year to year. Bay is returning to form after a sub-par 2007 by his standards. Ludwick has never been healthy enough to keep a job for a full season and there isn't much prior history with him to determine whether his hot start is for real. Braun was the ROY last year and has picked things up after a slow start, but his OBP is still a bit low for my taste.

I suppose I'd take Burrell, Bay and Beltran, but you could almost take any three players on this list and make a solid argument in their favor.

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