Can you really have an All-Star Game without Jeter, Pujols and Ichiro? We say Yes.
The voting is in and MLB has tallied up America’s wishes for the starting lineups for the All-Star Game next week. Managers Bruce Bochy of the Giants and Ron Washington of the Rangers have selected their reserves.
While fans clearly see this as a popularity lineup (despite Bud Selig’s attempt to convince us otherwise with the whole World Series home-field shenanigans), not a real All-Star lineup, we seldom agree with the voting results. And, we can’t say that we always agree with the managers either.
We like to select teams that would give us the best chances of winning a real game in view of this season’s performance. We think that should be what an All-Star Game is about.
So, here are Athlon Sports All-Star teams for 2011 — based on production, not reputation.
These are 34-man rosters with every team represented. And we like to emulate real teams as much as possible so we have setup men and closers in the bullpen.
(Stats are current through July 3.)
Starters and batting order
SS Jose Reyes, New York
Maybe the biggest no-brainer in either league, Reyes leads the NL with a .351 average and leads shortstops in most every major category expect RBIs. His 120 hits and 65 runs are dominant.
CF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
Currently in the top three in all triple crown categories, Kemp leads the discussion for MVP honors. His defensive focus has been renewed this season as well.
LF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
Among players with enough at-bats to qualify, Braun leads leftfielders in OPS and average. Braun easily leads leftfielders in hits, home runs, RBIs, runs and even stolen bases.
1B Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
The MVP candidate is leading the NL in RBIs and is just one off the pace in home runs. He’s third in OPS and is batting .296.
DH Matt Holliday, St. Louis
Falling just shy of enough plate appearances to qualify, Holliday is a tad higher than Braun in average and OPS, but way short in homers, ribbies and runs.
RF Lance Berkman, St. Louis
The Yankees declined a $15 million option on Berkman, who is still in the MVP talk this season. He’s moved to first base in Albert Pujols’ absence, but spent most of the season in right field. He has 58 RBIs and a .999 OPS.
C Brian McCann, Atlanta
Clearly deserving to start this season, not because he was the hero last the 2010 game, but because he leads NL catchers in home runs (14), RBIs (47) and OPS (.907).
2B Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee
Leads NL second basemen with an .839 OPS and 57 runs.
3B Placido Polanco, Philadelphia
Polanco is third in most offensive categories, but he has been the catalyst for the NL’s best team all season. He’s hit second, third and fifth in the lineup. The former Gold Glove second baseman will also serve as out utility man off the bench.
C Miguel Montero, Arizona
The rising Arizona star leads NL catchers with 21 doubles and 37 runs.
1B Todd Helton, Colorado
Recently played in his 2,000th game as a member of the Rockies. Enjoying a fine comeback season that has been relatively injury-free.
1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati
Tough to leave the reigning MVP off the team, especially when he’s been hitting over .300 all season and has reached base via hit or walk in all but seven starts through June.
2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
Phillips has scored 52 and driven home 45. His Gold Glove defense would come in handy late in a close game.
3B Aramis Ramirez, Chicago
In a down year for NL third basemen, Placido Polanco, Chipper Jones and Chase Headley all received attention. Ramirez owns the best OPS at the position and is second in runs, RBIs and average.
3B Chipper Jones, Atlanta
Okay, a) this is a sentimental pick in Jones’ finals season; b) it gives the NL a second third baseman if Polanco is the backup at second, and; c) Jones has been clutch, hitting .409 with runners in scoring position.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Leads NL shortstops with 50 ribbies and plays spectacular defense, but falls way short of Reyes.
SS Starlin Castro, Chicago
The youngster should have many All-Star appearances — and even starts — in his career, but for now he’s a pinch-runner and may get in an inning on defense.
OF Mike Stanton, Florida
The Marlins’ representative is the young Stanton, who leads the team in home runs and tied with Gaby Sanchez for the team lead in RBIs and OPS.
OF Andre Ethier, Los Angeles
He had a torrid April that included a 30-game hitting streak, and leads rightfielders with a .320 average.
OF Hunter Pence, Houston
Pence is hitting .318 and we must have an Astro on the team.
OF Justin Upton, Arizona
The home fans should enjoy watching the rising star and offensive leader of the Diamondbacks
SP Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta
His recent 1-hit shutout of Baltimore cemented his position as our starter. He’s 11-3 with a 1.89 ERA after 15 starts.
SP Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
The steady perennial Cy Young candidate has completed 15 of his first 51 starts with the Phillies. He’s 11-3 this season and his 2.44 ERA is second in the senior circuit.
SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
He may get third billing on his own team behind Halladay and Cliff Lee, but Hamels has a 0.94 WHIP with 110 whiffs in 116 innings.
SP Cliff Lee, Philadelphia
Could manager Bruce Bochy just run out Philadelphia pitchers for the entire game? Yes, and would probably do quite well. Prior to his loss to Toronto on Sunday, Lee tossed three complete game shutouts in which he allowed just 10 hits and five walks. In 42 innings in June, he gave up one run (0.21 ERA).
SP Tommy Hanson, Atlanta
Hanson is fourth in the league with a 2.62 ERA.
SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
With a borderline ERA at 3.23, Kershaw is fourth in the league with a 1.06 WHIP and leads the senior circuit with 138 Ks.
SP Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco
Vogelsong — not Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner — has been the most consistent starter this season. He leads the Giants with a 2.13 ERA (0.2 shy of enough innings to qualify for the league lead) and Cain is his only teammate with a better WHIP.
SU Tyler Clippard, Washington
The league leader in holds, Clippard has 57 strikeouts and has 40 hits plus walks in his 46 innings.
SU Jonny Venters, Atlanta
Venters would be the key lefty in our pen. He has dominated over 51 innings with 54 whiffs and has allowed just 48 hits and walks.
CL Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh
The Pirates’ closer has been perfect in 24 save chances and has a 0.97 WHIP.
CL Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
No National League rookie has ever recorded 20 saves prior to the All-Star break. Kimbrel has 24 and counting. He sports an impressive 1.12 WHIP.
CL Heath Bell, San Diego
Bell has blown just one opportunity this season and saved 24 games. This may be his last All-Star appearance in a San Diego uniform.
CL Huston Street, Colorado
Tied for the league lead in saves, Street has blown just two and even has one hold.
CF Curtis Granderson, New York
We understand that the new Yankee Stadium inflates numbers, but Granderson is having a fine season. He’s best at the position in runs, homers, RBIs, slugging and on-base. Easy choice.
2B Robinson Cano, New York
Cano leads AL second basemen with an .862 OPS and 54 RBIs.
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Boston
There should be no argument here. Gonzalez has been all Red Sox could have hoped for after acquiring him from San Diego over the winter. He leads the AL with a .350 average, 74 RBIs and 119 hits.
RF Jose Bautista, Toronto
If you were among the throng that believed last season was a fluke for Bautista, stand corrected. He has repeated with 27 home runs and owns a 1.158 OPS. He’s also been walked 70 times, evidence that AL pitchers understand that 2010 was no accident.
3B Alex Rodriguez, New York
A-Rod leads AL third basemen with a .299 average and an .886 OPS.
DH David Ortiz, Boston
Much-maligned in recent seasons, Big Papi has earned an All-Star start this season.
C Alex Avila, Detroit
Never has there been a pair of catchers from the same team on an All-Star team. But Avila leads AL backstops with a .303 average, .910 OPS and 46 RBIs.
LF Alex Gordon, Kansas City
Really? If you took the name off the stats and saw the leader at the position in OPS, average, runs and RBIs, you would say he was an All-Star. But Gordon? It looks weird not to have Carl Crawford on the team or Josh Hamilton starting. But you can’t argue with Gordon’s numbers.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland
Cabrera leads the Indians in all triple crown categories and leads AL shortstops in runs, homers and RBIs.
C/DH Victor Martinez, Detroit
Martinez has made only about a third of his starts at catcher this season. He’s batting .332 with 46 RBIs.
C Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Although he has been a little disappointing offensively, Wieters has thrown out 43% of base stealers — a weapon behind the plate.
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
The offensive machine for the Tigers continues to put up huge numbers. He leads AL first basemen with a 1.031 OPS and 60 runs.
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago
The White Sox’ first sacker is hitting .318 with 21 home runs and 62 ribbies.
2B Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles
Kendrick has a better average than Cano and his OPS is only five points lower.
3B Adrian Beltre, Texas
Beltre, known for having his best seasons in his contract years, has 14 home runs and 61 RBIs, which leads the position in the AL.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit
Peralta leads the position in average and OPS, but is not as strong defensively as Cabrera.
SS J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
Getting a late start due to an injury, Hardy was the AL's best offensive shortstop in June. He batted .362 in June with a 1.094 OPS and nine home runs.
OF Josh Hamilton, Texas
After missing more than a month with a bum shoulder, Hamilton has earned a spot on the team, but not as the starter.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston
The swift Boston centerfielder tops all AL outfielders in hits and steals.
OF Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay
Joyce is third among AL outfielders with an .885 OPS.
OF Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota
Well, we must have a Twin and Cuddyer is the best choice. At least he would give us some defensive flexibility should the game go, oh, 18 innings or so.
UT Michael Young, Texas
If you need a clutch hit early in the game, late in the game, off a righthander or lefthander, or you need someone to fill in at any position, this is your guy. Young is a proven professional who has willingly accepted position moves from second to short to third and now to 1B/DH. He’s a valuable piece on any bench.
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
Clearly, the most dominant hurler in the league this season. Having pitched the second no-hitter of his career earlier this season, Verlander narrowly missed another. His 0.86 WHIP is the best in the AL, he’s 11-3 and has 130 strikeouts in 135.2 innings.
SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles
Weaver owns the league’s sole sub-2.00 ERA at 1.94. He’s 10-4 with a 0.92 WHIP.
SP Josh Beckett, Boston
It appears that Boston’s ace is healthy once again. Trouble for the AL East rivals.
SP James Shields, Tampa Bay
Shields has been the linchpin of the Rays' rotation so far this season, leading with six complete games and three shutouts.
SP CC Sabathia, New York
His ERA (3.05) is a tad high for an All-Star, but the Yankees have lost just five of his 18 starts. And in those five games, New York has scored a total of nine runs.
SP Gio Gonzalez, Oakland
While there must be at least one of the A’s on the roster, don’t mistake Gonzalez for not being a worthy All-Star. In his four no-decisions, he’s given up a total of three earned runs.
SU Tony Sipp, Cleveland
The Indians’ setup man has been instrumental in Cleveland’s rebound this season. He has 16 holds without blowing a save.
SU Scott Downs, Los Angeles
Left-handed hitters have eight singles and three walks in 45 at-bats this season. The veteran Downs would be our guy to get tough lefthanders out late in the game.
CL Mariano Rivera, New York
There’s still no active closer any manager would rather have on the mound when it matters than Rivera. He has an ERA of 1.91 and a 1.03 WHIP. He’s second in the league lead with 21 saves.
CL Chris Perez, Cleveland
The rising bullpen star has blown just one opportunity this season and has 19 saves.
CL Jose Valverde, Detroit
The Tigers’ closer has saved 20 and has yet to blow a chance. He has 35 punchouts and allowed just 29 hits.
CL Brandon League, Seattle
League had a rough stretch in mid-May, but in his last 17 outings covering 16.2 innings, the AL saves leader hasn’t allowed an earned run or an extra-base hit and opponents are batting .172.