These rosters were formulated with the ideas I discussed yesterday in mind. To summarize the main points:
-Each roster has 25 players.
-There are 9 starters, including a DH.
-There are 11 or 12 pitchers and 4 or 5 bench players.
-Players can re-enter the game any time in the event of an injury.
-Pitchers who start the Sunday before the All-Star Game are not replaced on the roster, but are not allowed to pitch unless the game goes into extra innings.
And a few new minor changes: the DH can switch to the field without forcing the pitcher to bat, and an actual centerfielder must be picked to play centerfield. Not someone like Carl Crawford who probably could play centerfield, but someone who actually plays centerfield. Right field and left field are interchangeable because they are about equal on the defensive spectrum.
And one more: there must be at least three relief pitchers and at least five starters. The last 3 or 4 pitchers could be either.
Catcher: Victor Martinez (injured) - Boston, Joe Mauer - Minnesota, John Buck - Toronto (replacement)
Martinez is having another fine year, as he ranks 4th in HRs and 2nd in RBIs among AL catchers with at least 150 plate appearances, despite missing some time with an injury. He also is top-5 in average (2nd), on-base percent (4th), slugging percent (2nd), and OPS (2nd). Mauer is having a down year for him, but comes in right behind Martinez in terms of All-Star worthiness. I chose Buck as Martinez's replacement because he leads catchers in RBIs and slugging percent, and is 2nd in homers. It was tough to pick a guy with a 65-to-9 K:BB ratio, but the other options had problems with total playing time (Jorge Posada and John Jaso) or similar on-base issues (Kurt Suzuki and Mike Napoli).
First Base: Justin Morneau - Minnesota, Kevin Youkilis - Boston
It's a Twin and a Red Sock again. Don't fret, I haven't forgotten Miguel Cabrera, I just listed him as the DH. First base, as always, is a stacked position offensively. Morneau and Cabrera have been a step above the rest though, as Cabrera's counting numbers (namely home runs and RBIs) give him the edge whereas Morneau's defense is his advantage. That's also why Morneau was the obvious choice to play first base since the two were going to fill the 1B and DH spots, but I would have chosen Morneau even without the DH. Apologies to Paul Konerko and David Ortiz, who are having excellent seasons, but it's just not good enough at this position.
Second Base: Robinson Cano - New York, Dustin Pedroia (injured)
This was the easiest choice to make for the American League. He leads AL second basemen in runs, home runs, RBIs, batting average, slugging percent, OPS, wOBA, WAR... the list goes on and on. It helped that the obvious second choice, Dustin Pedroia, is injured, but that wouldn't have made it much closer anways.
Third Base: Evan Longoria - Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre - Boston
Longoria, Adrian Beltre, and Jose Bautista form a very even group at the top offensively, as they have OPSs between .895 and .907 and wOBAs between .387 and .391. Longoria and Beltre distinguish themselves from Bautista with their defense, though (and by the fact that Bautista has played much more outfield than third base). It was pretty much a toss-up between those two, so I gave Longoria the edge because of his 13 stolen bases to Beltre's 1. Beltre still made it as a reserve, giving the Red Sox 4 players at the first 5 positions, before injuries struck. Alex Rodriguez's name is notably absent, and rightfully so; he'll be a hall of famer, but he's just not having as good a year as the 3 guys I already mentioned, or even a fourth I haven't, Michael Young.
Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez - Toronto
I actually had Derek Jeter filled in here before I even checked the shortstops, so don't accuse me of just not wanting to pick him. Actually, I wish I didn't have to pick a shortstop, since there haven't really been any standouts this year, but I do. And I really didn't want to pick a guy with a .296 OBP, but Gonzalez leads all other shorstops by 90 points in slugging, doubles the next one in home runs, leads them all in OPS by 60 points, and is first in wOBA and RBIs. Combined with some above average defense, he quickly convinced me that he was the choice in an underwhelming shortstop class.
Outfield: Carl Crawford, LF - Tampa Bay, Alex Rios, CF - Chicago, Josh Hamilton, RF - Texas, Torii Hunter - Los Angeles, Ben Zobrist - Tampa Bay (Pedroia's replacement)
Crawford is having a fantastic season in every facet of the game. His wOBA is .399, he's playing excellent defense, and he's second in the Majors in stolen bases. There was no way he would not make the team. Josh Hamilton leads AL outfielders in OPS and wOBA and has played around average defense to put himself in strong position for a starting job. He's played exclusively left field this year, but he did spend some time in right field last year so I moved him over there instead of Crawford. Rios, who somehow didn't make the real All-Star team, is easily the best centerfielder. His and Hunter's offensive stats are similar, but Rios has wreaked havoc on the basepaths and played a very good centerfield. Hunter still made the team as a reserve, as he is still managing average defense in centerfield to go with his very good offense in 2010. I really did not want to take Zobrist, but even in an exhibition game you need at least one backup middle infielder, and, with Pedroia's injury, Zobrist is more deserving than any of the actual middle infielders. He's played very good defense in the outfield (and in his limited time at second base) and has a healthy OBP of .386. Brennan Boesch, Jose Bautista, Nick Swisher, and Ichiro Suzuki were on the cusp (not necessarily in that order).
Designated Hitter: Miguel Cabrera - Detroit
Reasoning above, under the first base heading. David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero would be in tight race if this spot were reserved for an actual designated hitter.
As you can see, positional versatility played a role in only one choice (Zobrist). Instead of him I probably would have taken a twelfth pitcher. The next hitter would probably have been Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch. If I had wanted to take 12 pitchers and Zobrist, Adrian Beltre would have been cut from the roster. As for the lineup, it would look like this:
1. Carl Crawford - LF
2. Alex Rios - CF
3. Miguel Cabrera - DH
4. Justin Morneau - 1B
5. Josh Hamilton - RF
6. Robinson Cano - 2B
7. Evan Longoria - 3B
8. Joe Mauer - C
9. Alex Gonzalez - SS
Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee - Seattle/Texas, Jon Lester - Boston, Felix Hernandez - Seattle, Jered Weaver - Los Angeles, Francisco Liriano - Minnesota, Zack Greinke - Kansas City, Colby Lewis - Texas
Unlike those who actually select the All-Star Game pitchers, I did not even look at the number of wins each player had. It's just a completely useless stat that has absolutely nothing to do with pitching ability. Unlike some sabermetrically-inclined fans, however, I do consider ERA and WHIP. I also look at FIP and xFIP, so my decision is sort of a blend of the two. Lee is the starter but the rest are in no particular order. Lewis was a tough decision over the likes of David Price, Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Ricky Romero, and Phil Hughes (in that order). Lewis certainly surprised me as I had no idea he would be deserving before I went to look at the statistics.
Relief Pitcher: Joaquin Benoit - Tampa Bay, Mariano Rivera - New York, J.J. Putz - Chicago, Darren Oliver - Texas
Before I looked at the relievers, I had Price penciled in as an eighth starter. There were just too many good relievers to limit it to 3, though. As you can see, I only chose one closer (Rivera). I did value saves, but these guys were just too much better. Not that there weren't any good closers; I could have easily chosen Jose Valverde, Rafael Soriano, or Andrew Bailey. Valverde's K:BB rate wasn't quite good enough, Soriano strikeouts were a tad low, and Bailey's WHIP was a little high. Obviously I'm nit-picking, because these guys are all having great years, but just not quite good enough. Benoit's stats were just ridiculous, despite limited innings: 40 strikeouts against 4 walks and 10 hits in 27.2 innings, resulting in a 0.51 WHIP, 0.65 ERA, and 1.60 FIP. Rivera is having his typical utterly dominant season, while Putz is just a notch under Benoit's ratios in 34 innings with Oliver another small step below in 39.2 innings. Daniel Bard and Matt Thornton were the other non-closers I considered.
Catcher: Miguel Olivo - Colorado, Geovany Soto - Chicago
Olivo was an easy choice, as he's been having a wonderful season. He leads NL catchers in average, homers, RBIs, slugging percent, OPS, and wOBA. His defense also rates very highly, but I take that with a grain of salt because I really don't trust ratings of catcher defense. The backup spot was a tight race between Soto and Brian McCann, but McCann really only has an argument if you value playing time and trust measurements of catcher defense. Offensively, Soto has surely outperformed McCann, and the small difference in the unreliable statistic of catcher defense doesn't pick up the slack for me.
First Base: Joey Votto - Cincinnati, Adrian Gonzalez - San Diego
Wow. Absolutely stacked, as is the usual at first base. Six guys have a wOBA over .390 (and none of them is Ryan Howard). Votto leads the pack with an OPS over 1.000 and a wOBA at .433. Him and Albert Pujols (don't worry, he's listed as the DH) also steal a few bases, which add a small bit to their value. Adrian Gonzalez barely nabs the third first base spot over Adam Dunn thanks to his superior defense. Not that there are specifically three spots available, I just can't justify four first basemen on a 25-man roster. Apologies to Aubrey Huff and Prince Fielder who are also deserving of an all-star spot.
Second Base: Chase Utley - Philadelphia (injured), Kelly Johnson - Arizona, Martin Prado - Atlanta (replacement)
Second base in the National League doesn't have a front-runner like Cano in the AL, but it has plenty of guys around the same level. Utley, Johnson, Martin Prado, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips, and Rickie Weeks are all tightly packed. Utley gets the nod not because of his reputation, but because a down year offensively for him, as is the case in 2010, is as good as the other options and his superb defense lifts him above the rest. Since he's injured, I had to pick someone to replace him; after much debate I settled on Johnson because he has the best offensive stats. His value is a little lower than the rest, in terms of WAR, but that's only due to his fewer plate appearances than Prado and Phillips. This one is pretty much a toss-up so though.
Third Base: David Wright - New York, Ryan Zimmerman - Washington
Wright and Zimmerman are clearly the class of the NL third base class. Both hit for average and both hit for power, while Wright steals bases and Zimmerman strikes out much less often. They also both play at least good defense, with Zimmerman's rating as excellent. Wright got the starting nod, but it was pretty much a coin toss, and both definitely deserved to make the team. Scott Rolen was the only guy close to them, and even he was a ways off.
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez - Florida
This was, without a doubt, the easiest choice of this whole process. In an incredibly weak shortstop pool across the Majors, Ramirez stands out even more. While Stephen Drew actually rates relatively close in terms of WAR, it's based solely on his far superior defensive rating. Of course that has worth, but when Ramirez rates leagues ahead of the rest of the field in the much more reliable offensive statistical categories, it's no competition. He ranks first in home runs, RBIs, average, slugging percent, on-base percent, OPS (by over 100 points), and wOBA (by 37 points). He also is second in runs and stolen bases.
Outfield: Matt Holliday, LF - St. Louis, Andres Torres, CF - San Francisco, Josh Willingham, RF - Washington, Angel Pagan, OF - New York
The names here are very different from the actual NL All-Star outfielders. Going in, I thought guys like Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen would prove deserving, but they, along with guys like Matt Kemp, Colby Rasmus, Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, Corey Hart, and Chris Young were outshone by lesser names. Torres and Pagan beat out the big names with the big power numbers through solid on-base percentages, lots of stolen bases, and well above average defense. Willingham did it by posting the highest wOBA of any NL outfielder (.404) and playing average defense. Holliday is a big name, and marked his spot with a 4th-place wOBA (.390) and some great defense at a corner spot. Andre Ethier's horrible defense and missed time prevented him from getting a roster spot; one or the other could have been overlooked, but not both. Aubrey Huff just missed out at this position, too, in addition to first base.
Designated Hitter: Albert Pujols - St. Louis
Description above, under the first base heading.
Again, Prado was only chosen because of the need for a backup middle infielder. Johnson would have been chosen for that reason had Utley not been injured. If I didn't feel the need for one, Huff would have been added. If there was a 12th pitcher, I'd reluctantly have to take off the very deserving Ryan Zimmerman, since none of the other guys can play the outfield and the team needs an outfield sub. The lineup:
1. Andres Torres - CF
2. Hanley Ramirez - SS
3. Joey Votto - 1B
4. Albert Pujols - DH
5. Matt Holliday - LF
6. Josh Willingham - RF
7. David Wright - 3B
8. Kelly Johnson - 2B
9. Miguel Olivo - C
Starting Pitcher: Josh Johnson - Florida, Roy Halladay - Philadelphia, Adam Wainwright - St. Louis, Ubaldo Jimenez - Colorado, Mat Latos - San Diego, Yovani Gallardo - Milwaukee (injured), Roy Oswalt - Houston, Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles (replacement)
This was a very tough decision, as there were many deserving candidates. Tim Lincecum just missed the cut, as it came down to him and Kershaw to replace Gallardo on the roster. In the end, Kershaw's slightly lower WHIP convinced me to add him. Johnson is the starter, but again, the rest is in no particular order. Halladay made it thanks to all-around great pitching, Wainwright and Latos thanks to their sub-1.00 WHIPs and K:BB ratios over 3.50. Jimenez and Oswalt were a step below those guys, Jimenez because of his K:BB ratio and Oswalt because of his ERA. Kershaw got the last spot on the strength of his huge strikeout rate.
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner - Atlanta, Jonathan Broxton - Los Angeles, Hong-Chih Kuo - Los Angeles, Matt Belisle - Colorado
I am a total sucker for big strikeout rates, so Carlos Marmol was very close to making it, but the other guys just had a little too much. I really, really wanted to take him, but his WHIP was just too high compared to these other guys. Wagner and Broxton almost made up for Marmol missing the cut with their own killer strikeout rates, but not quite. Wagner's WHIP of 0.86 buoyed his resume, while Broxton's ridiculous 1.21 FIP and 7.86 K:BB ratio made him a no-brainer. Kuo joined his Dodger teammate on the strength of a 0.99 ERA and 1.83 FIP. Belisle's numbers, while excellent, weren't quite as good as the other choices--or some of the guys who just missed the team--but I credited him for his workload (54 innings). A trio of Padres, Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, and Heath Bell, were among those considered, a group that also included Evan Meek and Sean Marshall.
Wow, did this take a long time. I'm happy with how the rosters turned out, although the NL outfield in particular was a shock to me. I did not want to pick the guys I did--I wanted to pick the players with the big power numbers and the good traditional stats--but no matter how I looked at it they just didn't warrant a selection. The decisions were tough, and some deserving players were left off, but that's the way an All-Star Game is supposed to be. That way the players who are selected realize that it is in fact an honor, and not something that every Omar Infante out there can attend.
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