Tag:Tommy Hanson
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:17 am
 

Pepper: Finally a worthwhile 'Moneyball myth'



By Matt Snyder


In the past few days, "Moneyball" reviews have been all over the Internet, as advanced screenings are currently taking place. It's a veritable mixed bag. Some reviews have the movie an Oscar contender, others tearing it to shreds, while most are in between. I haven't seen the movie yet, but one area where people aggravate me already is bemoaning how, basically, it's not a documentary. Simply put: It's a movie. Of course it's going to take liberties and be just as much fiction as fact. It says "based on a true story," not "true story." I'm sorry is Jonah Hill doesn't even come close to physically resembling Paul DePodesta, for example. Hollywood doesn't have to cast clones.

Anyway, there have been critics for years of the book. You'll often hear someone say something like "Moneyball doesn't work" or try to explain the "myth of Moneyball." Sometimes it almost seems like the person is taking great pride is taking down some huge establishment.

One of the loudest complaints is that the A's had a trio of aces in the pitching staff, so it wasn't that hard to make the team around them good. It's fair, but it discounts the shift in offensive philosophy. But it's understandable. And it's not like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez -- the anchors of the 2002 offense -- weren't stars. They were.

But this all still ignores the massive disadvantage in payroll the A's had against the likes of the Yankees -- and the 2002 A's won 103 games.

On that front, I finally saw a "myth" about Beane's 2002 ballclub that was worthwhile and made sense -- thanks to Jeff Fletcher at BayBridgeBaseball.com. Yes, that payroll was really low. But a lot of it had to do with how baseball's system is set up. Namely, because of young players being under club control for years and then arbitration-eligible for a few more years, there was some pretty damn good talent making relatively low salaries in '02.

Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito combined to go 57-21 with a 3.05 ERA. Zito won the Cy Young. The three aces made $1.97 million combined. For comparison's sake, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox finished second in Cy Young voting that year and he made $14 million.

There were several other young players that made far less money than players they were outperforming and that happens every year. The A's just happened to have a handful of them. So I guess I've finally found a "Moneyball myth" I support.

Mo in center? Mariano Rivera has a simple request of manager Joe Girardi. Before he retires, Rivera would like to get a shot in center field. Rivera reportedly claims he's a "viable" center fielder and wants to play a game there (a whole game?). Yeah, that ain't happening. But Girardi has said he'd consider putting him out there for one batter in a meaningless game. Oh, and one more stipulation: “[It would be against] a guy who hits ground balls or strikes out a lot,” Girardi said (NYTimes.com).

GM already in place? It would seem that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is doing his hiring backwards. About a week and a half ago I bemoaned Ricketts' giving a contract extension to his player personnel director before hiring a general manager. Well, now Ricketts is set to give a similar extension to scouting director Tim Wilkin (SunTimes.com). Yes, outgoing GM Jim Hendry loved both of these members of his staff, but he's gone now. Is it possible Ricketts already has an agreement behind closed doors with his next GM, which makes these extensions OK? If not, it seems like he's severely limiting himself in his GM search. Think about it this way. If you started a business, would you hire all the mid-level employees before your CEO? Or would you hire your dream CEO and then work with him on hiring the underlings?

Great family story: The Marlins recently promoted prospect Matt Dominguez for his major-league debut. His father is a copy editor for the Los Angeles Times, and he wrote a story about the experience of seeing his son play in the bigs. (LATimes.com)

Jocketty staying put: Just as I noted in Wednesday's Pepper, the rumor that the Cubs were going to grab GM Walt Jocketty, manager Tony La Russa and first baseman Albert Pujols doesn't have much merit. Jocketty isn't going anywhere (Cincinnati.com).

Poor Dunn: This is interesting. Baseball-Reference's blog ran two posts that kind of sum up how futile White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn's season has been. He's hitting .162 with 160 strikeouts. If he gathers a few more at-bats, there's a chance he ends up with more strikeouts than his batting average points. That has only happened one time in history when a hitter got more than 35 at-bats. And it was last season: Mark Reynolds. The same blog also compiled a list of the worst full-time players of the last 50 years, and Dunn checks in at 20th.

Still chugging: Rockies starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, 36, is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since being picked up by the Rockies this season, and he wants to come back for them in 2012 (DenverPost.com). Remember, he was on the verge of retiring before the Rockies grabbed him.

Hanson improving: Injured Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson threw a 44-pitch side session Wednesday and felt fine. Another big step comes Thursday, as he'll see how his hampered throwing shoulder reacts (MLB.com). If anything big happens, we'll certainly be updating with a stand-alone post on Eye On Baseball. Hanson could be the difference between a first-round exit or going deep in the playoffs for the Braves.

Gracious Votto: Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto has emerged as an elite baseball player and he says that he owes "90 percent" of his success to his old coach back in Canada (Fox Sports Ohio). This isn't surprising. Votto is one of the most humble and classy players in baseball.

Happy Anniversary: Since 1980, the following All-Stars made their respective major-league debuts on September 15: Fernando Valenzuela (1980), Randy Johnson (1989), Cliff Lee (2002) and Rickie Weeks (2003). (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 4:56 pm
 

Hanson to have shoulder examined

By Matt Snyder

Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn't pitched since August 6, as he's been on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. He was shut down during a recent bullpen session due to discomfort and now he's reportedly heading back to Atlanta to have another checkup and an MRI on that balky shoulder. Uh oh.

Still, manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't sound worried that it's anything more than tendinitis acting up again.

“They think maybe we haven’t given it enough time, maybe he needs a little bit more rest,” Gonzalez said (ajc.com). “The test before showed nothing, just showed a little tendinitis. But sometimes you want something to happen quickly and it takes a little longer.”

The larger concern is that Hanson's discomfort arose after only throwing nine pitches this past Monday. He was expected to start a rehab stint Saturday, but that has been canceled. So even if there's nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder, it's likely going to be a lot longer before he's back on the hill.

Hanson, 24, is 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 130 innings this season. When healthy, he's one of the best pitchers on the staff. Expect the Braves to be very cautious with their future ace, as they have an abundance of starting pitching and appear pretty easily locked in to the NL Wild Card spot.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:30 am
 

Pepper: Quade's excusing of Castro a mistake

Castro

By Evan Brunell

Lighten up: Much has been made of Starlin Castro missing a pitch in Sunday's game, with his back to the plate while playing in the field. Understandably, many people -- including ESPN announcer Bobby Valentine -- were outraged, with Valentine excoriating Castro on air.

Also unsurprisingly, Cubs players are rushing to Castro's defense, with Aramis Ramirez the latest to tell everyone to back off. And Ramirez has a pretty good idea what it may be like to be Castro, who is 21 years old. Ramirez made his big-league debut at age 19.

"People need to realize that he's only 21 -- he's going to make mistakes," Ramirez told MLB.com. "He's going to make mental mistakes. ... I made it to the big leagues when I was 19, and I made a lot of mistakes. That's part of [the game]."

Ramirez added that Castro has apologized to the team and everyone's moved on.

"I think [such a big deal was made] because it was an ESPN game, a nationally televised game," Ramirez said. "[But] that stuff shouldn't happen. Starlin would be the first one to tell you that shouldn't happen. Even when you're a veteran, you make mistakes."

Here's the problem, though: Mike Quade had something to say, and it was the wrong thing. Castro was benched Monday in a pretty clear response to his not paying attention to the pitch, but Quade passed it off as a mental day, missing an opportunity to show everyone -- including owner Tom Ricketts, who may fire Quade after the year -- that he's the boss. He missed another opportunity by excusing Castro's behavior for the limelight of being a Cubs player.

"I may agree that too much was being made of it but this is the world we're in and this is the spotlight we're under," Quade said. "You can think what you want, but when you're playing in a market like this at a level like this, you can expect this kind of attention, and you can expect to be under a microscope like this."

Since when did a player's uniform affect attention span? Not paying attention during the game is not paying attention, period.

Back at it
: The next outing for Stephen Strasburg will come on Saturday, which will be his fifth rehab start since returning from Tommy John surgery. It's also the first one that will be at a higher level than Single-A, with Strasburg heading to Triple-A, which should allow Strasburg to lock in and focus on executing pitches against advanced competition as he prepares for an early September return to Washington. (Washington Times)

Will Wandy go? Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle says that how the Astros handle the Wandy Rodriguez waiver claim situation will go a long way in determining how new owner Jim Crane will handle things. " Is he really about trying try to build things the right way for sustainable success, or is the endgame nothing more than to dump salary for dumping salary’s sake?" Campbell writes. "If the Astros do nothing more than a salary dump, however, then fans have reason to be afraid — very afraid — for the future. Houston is too big and too good of a market to become the National League’s Kansas City of the South — perpetually turning over the roster with young, cheap players without committing the resources necessary to build a winner."

Best scooper: Eric Hosmer wasn't called up to the majors until May 6, but his 27 scoops at first base (yes, this really is measured) is just one behind Adam Lind for most in the AL, while Carlos Pena leads baseball with 52. Three additional AL players have 27 scoops. “What I had to learn when I got here,” Hosmer told the Kansas City Star, “was, when you pick it, you’ve got to stay through it (with a sweeping motion). You have an imaginary line on where you think the ball is going to bounce. Before, I was just working up and down. Then I learned to go through the ball.”

Capping the draft: There were plenty of big paydays to high school and college players once the dust settled last week on the signing deadline for drafted players. The money is so exorbitant, that it's only deepened commissioner Bud Selig's resolve to introduce a hard-slotting system. But is that good for baseball? (Kansas City Star)

Moneyball: Before long, the blockbuster movie centered around the book that made so many waves in baseball will premiere, with Brad Pitt as A's GM Billy Beane. New York Magazine has a great story out about the movie and how it had to jump through hoops to get made... and what, exactly, Hollywood is taking away from Moneyball.

Game changed: But Billy Beane says the game is different these days, and the gap between the big- and low-money teams is even more pronounced, with the window for small markets to compete that much smaller than just a decade ago, as Oakland has been reduced to taking fliers on players as their only options.  “Sometimes, you’re relegated to buying that lottery ticket,” Beane told the New York Times. “Anybody will tell you that the lottery is not a great way to invest your money. But sometimes, you don’t have a lot of options.”

Window closing? Since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, they have yet to win another postseason game. With Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols and others only getting older and reaching free agency, is it possible St. Louis' window of competition has closed? It seems like it, but how did the window get missed in the first place with strong teams over the last four years? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Brave injuries
: Tommy Hanson, one of Atlanta's best pitchers, keeps experiencing setbacks while sensation Jose Constanza is hobbled by a right-ankle sprain. Constanza is day-to-day and could be back as early as Wednesday, but Hanson is a different story. He threw a nine-pitch throwing session on Monday, the first time throwing from the mound since Aug. 6, but the report was sobering enough that his Tuesday bullpen session was canceled. Hanson will now wait for his condition to improve. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Say-Hey Kid: Cameron Maybin received an honor by spending time at the home of baseball great Willie Mays, and Maybin was understandably bowled over by the meeting. Mays has been impressed with Maybin this season and invited him over when San Diego was in San Francisco before Tuesday's game. The Giants said while Mays has been known to go out to dinner with young players, they can't recall an invitation to go to Mays' home ever being extended to a player. “I took him my jersey, signed it for him,” Maybin told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Think of that. My jersey’s in Willie Mays’ house.”

Starting Greinke: The Brewers considered delaying Zack Greinke's next start so he could face the Cardinals, but manager Ron Roenicke may not go that route. Roenicke believes that Milwaukee should focus on winning every game, while Greinke isn't keen on starting a game on eight days rest. Nothing is decided yet, but the outcome appears obvious. (MLB.com)

Web Gems: Last season, Sam Miller of the Orange County Register found an East Coast bias in Web Gems, which may have been in part due to fan voting. This season, though, with tweaked rules, there is no such bias. The top five teams with the most Web Gems in 2011 are the Indians, Rangers, Rays, Brewers and Royals.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:29 pm
 

On Deck: Giants hope for home cooking

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Home, sweet home: San Francisco returns to AT&T Park after a 4-6 road trip, but find themselves treading water against a struggling Arizona squad that has lost six games in a row. After losing their last four series, the Giants open a 12-game home stand with San Diego for two games before Houston and Chicago come to town, setting up a big three-game set with division-leading Arizona. The Giants play 21 of their final 34 games at home, where they have the fourth-best winning percentage (.583) among National League teams. San Diego is 11 games under .500, but has won 12 of its last 18 games. The two-game series against San Diego is the start of a run of interdivisional games for the Giants, who play NL West teams 27 times in their final 34 and are done with non-NL West teams after this homestand. Padres at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

Hanging on: Two second place teams, the White Sox and Angels, start a quick two-game series at Angel Stadium. The series won't make or break either team, but both hope to keep pace in their divisional races. The White Sox are tied for second with Indians, 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central, while the Angels are 4 1/2 game behind the Rangers in the AL West. Both pitchers -- Chicago's Mark Buehrle and Los Angeles' Ervin Santana -- had winning streaks snapped in their last outting. Buehrle hadn't lost since June 16 and had a snap of 18 starts of allowing three runs or fewer by giving up four runs in a loss to Cleveland. Santana allowed four runs (three earned) in a loss to the Rangers last Wednesday, pitching into the eighth inning. Still, Santana has gone 6-3 with a 1.87 ERA over his last 12 starts, while Buehrle is 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA over his last 12 starts. White Sox at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Youth movement: In his last start, Braves left-hander Mike Minor didn't give up a run in six innings of work, striking out nine batters and walking one (intentionally), allowing just four hits. Since entering the rotation in the place of Tommy Hanson, Minor's gone 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts, showing why the Braves think so highly of the 23-year-old former first-round pick. Cubs right-hander Casey Coleman has been less successful in replacing Carlos Zambrano in the Chicago rotation. In his first start in place of Zambrano, Coleman allowed 10 hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Houston. He's 2-5 overall with a 7.43 ERA, but his ERA is lowered a bit to 7.05 as a starter. Braves at Cubs, 8:05 p.m ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:04 am
 

Hanson leaves Braves to have shoulder examined

Tommy HansonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson left the team on Tuesday to return to Atlanta and have his ailing right shoulder examined. The Braves will bump him from his scheduled start on Friday and have him penciled in to pitch Tuesday against the Giants.

"They'll do the whole workup on him and see what's there, see if there's a problem," manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "No matter how the evaluation goes, we're going to go ahead and bump him back."

Hanson lasted just 3 1/3 innings on Saturday against the Mets, allowing seven runs on eight hits.

Hanson went on the disabled list in June for rotator cuff tendinitis. Hanson is 1-3 with a 8.10 ERA in his five starts since the All-Star break and was 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA before the break.

Mike Minor, who started in Jair Jurrjens place in the rotation on Sunday in New York, will start on Friday. Jurrjens went on the disabled list with a right knee sprain.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:19 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Cueto takes MLB lead in ERA

Cueto

By Evan Brunell


UpJohnny Cueto, Reds: Cueto spun a gem on Sunday, finally qualifying for MLB leaderboards. Now that he's qualified, he boasts baseball's lowest ERA at at a scant 1.74, going the distance for a complete-game shutout, allowing three hits and one walk, while striking out six. People have been waiting for a breakout for Cueto for years, and while he's putting together the best season of his career, he's also been inordinately lucky, limiting home runs and allowing just 23 percent of batted balls to fall in for hits, compared to the league average of 29 percent. Not that his fantasy owners (me) are complaining.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Ibanez is an incredibly streaky hitter, being a valued member of the Philadelphia lineup in both May and July, but an albatross in the other two months. That doesn't bode well for August, does it? Anyways, Ibanez blasted two home runs against the Pirates, the latter blow tying the game in the bottom eighth before Philly walked off in the 10th. His four RBI were 2/3s of Philadelphia's total, and boosted his overall line to .247/.293/.434 which tells you how anemic he was in April and June.

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks: Saunders is on fire, throwing 7 2/3 innings of a victory to even his record up at 8-8. He allowed just two runs, walking none and striking out three. This is part of a larger pattern for Saunders, who was roundly criticized upon his trade to Arizona last season for Dan Haren. Saunders has found the senior circuit to his liking, posting a 3.56 ERA despite pitching in a hitter's park and has pitched 16 2/3 innings of a possible 18 in his last two starts. In July, Saunders didn't allow more than three earned runs in his six starts, a big reason why Arizona has stayed in playoff contention.

Honorable mention: Justin Verlander came oh-so-close to his second no-hitter of the season, not his first flirtation with that honor. Instead, he ended up holding on for the win in what turned into a crazy game.



DownTommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson didn't exactly get hit hard, but he give up three runs in six innings. Good enough for a quality start, but despite striking out seven, he also walked three. The start means Hanson has given up 18 runs in his last 23 1/3 innings, comprised of four starts. For comparison, prior to July, the most runs Hanson had ever given up in one month alone, never mind four starts, was 10, accomplished twice in April and May before dropping to six earned in June over four starts. So that should illustrate both how good Hanson has been and the rough stretch he's entered, which has spiked his ERA to 3.13.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Westbrook took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but coughed up a walk to Koyie Hill -- the No. 8 hitter -- with one out in the sixth. The wheels came off after that, and when it was all said and done, Westbrook had given up three hits, three walks and struck out three in six innings, allowing four earned runs. Every single one of those hits, walks and runs came in the sixth. That's one way to blow up a no-no.

Trade deadline losers: The Dodgers, Orioles and Cubs were colossal losers at the trade deadline. The Dodgers traded away a potential high-impact bat for three organizational guys. The Orioles' entire season is officially a loss, and the Cubs incomprehensibly stood pat. Read more here, as well as who won the trade deadline.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Valverde, Wilson to close for All-Star teams



By C. Trent Rosecrans

PHOENIX -- Not only did the All-Star managers announce their starters on Monday, both Bruce Bochy and Ron Washington announced their closers for Tuesday's game -- if they get that opportunity.

It's no surprise Bochy is going with his Giants closer, Brian Wilson, while Washington said he'll go to the Tigers' Jose Valverde if he has a lead in the game's last inning.

Valverde is making his third All-Star appearance, which is why Washington chose him as his closer over first-timers Jordan Walden of the Angels, Chris Perez of the Indians and the Mariners' Brandon League. This of course is an issue because the Yankees' Mariano Rivera is inactive for Tuesday's game.

"I wanted to have a veteran that may be able to handle whatever pressures are there and that's why I  chose Valverde," Washington said. "I want to win bad, I want to make sure I had someone who can stand whatever heat is applied."

Valverde leads the American League with 24 saves and has a 2.70 ERA, striking out 39 batters in 40 innings. 

For Bochy, the decision was a bit easier -- Wilson's the guy he trusted to close out the World Series, so he's going to close out the All-Star Game if he's in position to close out a National League victory.

Wilson is in his third All-Star Game and gets the nod over the Padres' Heath Bell and the Braves' Craig Kimbrel.  Bochy did note that he'll have to talk Wilson on Tuesday because his right-hander has pitched four of the last five days, picking up saves on Thursday and Sunday, taking the loss on Friday.

"That was part of my reasoning for picking Kimbrel over [Braves starter Tommy] Hanson," Bochy said. "I wanted another reliever to help out late in the game."

For complete All-Star Game coverage, keep up with Eye on Baseball in Phoenix

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 4:41 pm
 

McCutchen leads All-Snub team

Andrew McCutchen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Many years on the day that the All-Star teams are announced, people bemoan the fan voting and selections that pick big names over deserving starters. This year won't be one of those years because for the most part the fans made good picks, as CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler points out the fans and players agreed on 14 of the 17 selections. The lone starter that is obviously not worthy is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is expected to come off the disabled list on Monday. Jeter's hitting just .260/.324/.324 so far this season, but he's still Derek Jeter -- not to mention his chase of 3,000 hits.

But no matter how many deserving players make the game, with a roster of 33 (plus another to be added, but even those on the 34th man ballot are eligible for our team, because four of those five won't be voted in) there are deserving players who won't be making the trip to Phoenix.

So here you go, the CBSSports.com All-Snub team:

C: Speaking of the fans getting it right, this is one position where the deserving player was voted in for both leagues, Detroit's Alex Avila and Atlanta's Brian McCann. With the Yankees' Russell Martin, Baltimore's Matt Wieters and St. Louis' Yadier Molina, the five most deserving players at the position are headed to Phoenix. The best of those left out is already in Phoenix -- the Diamondbacks' Miguel Montero, who is hitting .270/.344/.457 with nine homers. 

Paul Konerko1B: This position is so loaded that it's almost as tough picking its All-Snub member as it is the All-Star representatives. The fans got it right with Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder, while Albert Pujols sits at home during the break for the first time since 2002. Both Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko have strong cases for the All-Snub pick, and in the end I'm going to go with Konerko, who is hitting .317/.387/.567 with 21 homers by a nose over Teixeira and his 25 homers.

2B: Robinson Cano's 2011 hasn't equaled his 2010 and wouldn't be my pick at second base in the American League, but it's hard to get worked up and say the fans got it wrong on a guy hitting .292 with 14 homers at second base. The All-Snub representative is tough here, with the choice between the Rays' Ben Zobrist (.261/.347/.463) and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox (.277/.391/.406). Because I like speed, I'll take Pedroia and his 15 steals and higher walk rate, but just by a tad. Zobrist is on the 34th man ballot, so he's still got a chance. Apologies also to the Nationals' Danny Espinosa who has 15 homers already.

SS: We've discussed Jeter, but let's just acknowledge the fans noticing Jose Reyes -- even though it'd be tough to call yourself a fan and not notice what Reyes has done. The All-Snub goes to Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers, who is having a fabulous season, hitting .311/.359/.538 with 14 homers and solid defense to go with it.

3B: Arizona's Ryan Roberts wasn't even on the ballot, but he's had a fantastic first half of the season, hitting .251/.338/.430 with 10 homers and 12 stolen bases. He's a terror on the basepaths and has been one of the best all-around players at the position. Kevin Youkilis has better offensive numbers -- including 56 RBI -- but defensively he's played much like a first baseman playing at third. San Diego's Chase Headley has had a good season as well, but his glove also holds him back.

Alex GordonLF: You could certainly have made a case for Kansas City's Alex Gordon as a starter in the American League. Gordon came into the season as yesterday's news, a failed top prospect in the way of the Royals' youth movement. However, he's been the Royals' best player so far this season, hitting .301/.368/.491 with 10 home runs.

CF: I still can't believe Andrew McCutchen's name wasn't on the All-Star list, he's the best all-around center fielder in the game. He's hitting .289/.390/.493 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases while leading the surprising Pirates to their first winning record in years. 

RF: I'm fudging here, because the All-Star Game often has outfielders playing out of their normal spots, and here I'm going with the Phillies' Shane Victorino. The Phillies lineup as a whole has struggled for production and consistency, but Victorino has given them both. He's hitting .299/.371/.515 with nine home runs and 34 RBI. He's also a very good defender.

DH: You want some roster flexibility? You get it with this DH, who can also serve as a backup catcher -- oh, and Victor Martinez can bash. Martinez is hitting .335/.383/.490 with six home runs.

Starting pitcher: This one is interesting, because I'm going to exclude CC Sabathia, who not only didn't want to be selected, but will also ineligible to pitch in the game when he starts next Sunday. With Sabathia out of the way, I'm going with the Braves' Tommy Hanson, who is 9-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts, with more than a strikeout an inning and a league-low 6.2 hits allowed per nine innings.

Middle reliever: These guys are used to being overlooked, but that's not to say they aren't worthy. Since Braves' setup man Jonny Venters was named an All-Star, I'm going with David Robertson of the Yankees. Only in middle relief can a Yankee go unnoticed, but Robertson has been fantastic this season. In 33 1/3 innings this season, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, striking out 53 batters in 33 1/3 innings of work. He's allowed just four earned runs this season in 36 outings.

Closer: While Atlanta's Venters was recognized, his closer, Craig Kimbrel, was not. Kimbrel leads the majors with 24 saves and has a 2.57 ERA. He's struck out 67 batters in 42 innings, with 18 walks.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com