In determining the final roster spot for the American League All-Star roster, voters must choose among five pitchers. That's right: no bats allowed in this one. As for storylines, do you go with the hometown closer? The marquee rookie from the other side of the world? The early-season pickup who's been perfect with his new team? The surprise ace for the surprise contender? Or the Cy Young-winning warhorse who's back to his old self? A decision awaits you ...
|2012 All-Star Game|
Jonathan Broxton, Royals, right-handed pitcher: Broxton is, of course, a "hometown" candidate, what with the All-Star game going down in Kansas City and all. And, like it or not, narrative is part of the consideration when picking a team. He's also having a pretty nifty season: a 2.05 ERA across 30.2 innings and only one home run allowed. Broxton's also a prior two-time All-Star.
Yu Darvish, Rangers, right-handed pitcher: Speaking of narrative, there's Darvish, this year's most headline-grabbing import. While command eludes him at times, Darvish ranks fourth in the AL in strikeouts and second in strikeout rate. As well, he has a solid ERA of 3.57 despite pitching roughly half his innings in hitter-friendly Arlington. In terms of star appeal -- which matters -- Darvish is certainly a player fans like to watch.
Ernesto Frieri, Angels, right-handed pitcher: When the Angels acquired Frieri from the Padres back in early May, they were getting a hard-throwing reliever with a quality ERA of 2.31. But how would he fare outside of Petco? So far the answer has been: "perfectly." In 23.1 innings as a Halo, Frieri has yet to allow a single run. He's given up just 15 hits over that span, and he's struck out 40. Remember when the Angels had bullpen problems? Frieri doesn't.
Jason Hammel, Orioles, right-handed pitcher: A big part of Baltimore's surprise success in 2012 has been Hammel's steady presence at the front of the rotation. Pardoned from Coors Field this past offseason, Hammel in 2012 has authored a 3.29 ERA across 15 starts, and he ranks ninth in the AL in strikeout rate. Also worth noting is that Oriole starters not named Jason Hammel have combined for a 5.17 ERA this season.
Jake Peavy, White Sox, right-handed pitcher: No one doubts what Peavy can do when healthy -- after all, he has to his name two ERA titles, two strikeout titles, two All-Star appearances, and a Cy Young award. What is often left to question is his health. In his career, Peavy has made six different trips to the disabled list and undergone a major shoulder surgery. Since being acquired by the White Sox at the 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, he's rarely been at full strength. But that's changed this season: he's second in the AL with 112.2 innings pitched, and over that span he's notched a 2.96 ERA. Take into account the hitter-friendly nature of his home park, and he's got the sixth-best ERA in the AL this season.
My pick: Jake Peavy
Simply put, Peavy is having the best season of any name on this list. He's out-pitched Hammel, and good starters are invariably more valuable than good relievers. Throw Peavy's strong body of work and "star" status (this is, after all, a game of stars), and this one should not be a difficult choice.