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What should the NL and AL All-Star rosters look like?

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

All-Star

On Sunday, National League and American League All-Star rosters will be announced to much fanfare and consternation. The eve of this fine occasion of course presents me with the opportunity to declare, in authoritative, Judge Lance Ito-fashion, who ought to be on these rosters. And that's just what I'm going to do, after a bit of necessary throat-clearing.

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My personal All-Star criteria? Certainly, performance to date is weighted, but I also keep in mind that, at the present juncture, we're not even three months into the season. Thus, our 2012 sample sizes are still small. That means established track record matters. If it's a close or even semi-close call in terms of in-season performance, I'll side with with the player who's proved it in the past. That is, I'll typically choose the star, being that this the All-Star Game.

As for injuries, if an otherwise deserving player in question is definitely out for the Midsummer Classic (e.g., CC Sabathia, Brandon McCarthy, Matt Joyce, Colby Lewis; Ryan Dempster, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, etc.), then his name will not appear on these rosters. If, however, he's presently injured but not yet a scratch for the All-Star Game (e.g., Matt Kemp), then he's eligible for inclusion.

It must also be noted that, in accordance with the rules, I'm selecting rosters of 34 and giving each team at least one representative. I'm also giving each squad a 13-man pitching staff.

So, if granted plenary powers over all that I survey, these would be my AL and NL All-Star rosters …

NATIONAL LEAGUE

C - Yadier Molina, Cardinals

Backup(s) - Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Buster Posey, Giants

Ruiz is having the best offensive season of any catcher in baseball, but Molina takes the starting nod because of his superiority on defense and his status as an established star.

1B - Joey Votto, Reds

Backup(s) - Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

This was the easiest decision of the bunch. There's no arguing against Votto as the starting first baseman for the NL.

2B - Brandon Phillips, Reds

Backup(s) - Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks

This was an exceptionally tough call, as no NL second baseman has truly distinguished himself from the rest. Phillips gets the nod for his power-speed-defense combo and track record. Leaving Jose Altuve off the team was one of the most difficult decisions of all.

SS - Jed Lowrie, Astros

Backup(s) - Ian Desmond, Nationals; Starlin Castro, Cubs

Like second base, there's no standout candidate at short who combines genuine excellence in 2012 with genuine excellence in previous seasons. So it falls to Lowrie, who's easily been the most productive NL shortstop in 2012.

3B - David Wright, Mets

Backup(s) - Chase Headley, Padres

There's no sensible case against Wright. As for Headley, he's having a strong offensive season, particularly in "Petco" context, and his defense is top-shelf. Plus, I needed a Padre.

OF - Carlos Beltran, Cardinals

OF - Matt Kemp, Dodgers

OF - Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Backup(s) - Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; Melky Cabrera, Giants; Bryce Harper, Nationals; Matt Holliday, Cardinals

At this point, it's not certain that Kemp will be cleared to play in Kansas City, but for now his star power in tandem with his excellence when healthy gets him the nod. Beltran is a potential future hall-of-famer enjoying a tremendous season, and McCutchen is in the midst of making the leap from "very good" to "truly great." Harper makes it as a reserve for three reasons: he's having a fine year, he's already a star, and fans want to see him.

DH - Ryan Braun, Brewers

Braun remains one of the best power hitters in the game today. Easy call.

Starting pitcher - R.A. Dickey, Mets

Dickey has probably been the top starter in all of baseball this season, and, needless to say, he's a compelling figure.

RHP - Matt Cain, Giants

LHP - Aroldis Chapman, Reds

RHP - Johnny Cueto, Reds

LHP - Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

RHP - Zack Greinke, Brewers

LHP - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

RHP - Craig Kimbrel, Braves

RHP - James McDonald, Pirates

LHP - Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

LHP - Johan Santana, Mets

RHP - Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

RHP - Ryan Vogelsong, Giants

A number of these are obvious, indisputable choices. Less obvious is Santana's inclusion, but he makes the cut for past stardom combined with an impressive 2012 renaissance.

Snubbed with regrets - 2B Jose Altuve, Astros; OF Michael Bourn, Braves; LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants; LHP Chris Capuano, Dodgers; OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies; LHP Cole Hamels, Phillies; RHP Joel Hanrahan, Pirates; OF Jason Heyward, Braves; OF Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks; RHP Kyle Lohse, Cardinals; RHP Lance Lynn, Cardinals.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

C - Joe Mauer, Twins

Backup(s) - A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox; Matt Wieters, Orioles

Mauer has caught just 286.0 innings this season, but his slash line of .324/.415/.439 and longstanding excellence is enough to earn him the start.

1B - Paul Konerko, White Sox

Backup(s) - Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays; Albert Pujols, Angels

Konerko's .976 OPS and 410 career bombs are enough to make him the easy call to start at first for the AL. Pujols? Yes, the overall numbers are dragged down by his miserable start to the season, but he's been hitting like a house afire this month. Throw in his status as one of the biggest stars in sport, and he's a worthy addition.

2B - Robinson Cano, Yankees

Backup(s) - Jason Kipnis, Indians

Cano is a certifiable AL MVP candidate and easily the top candidate at the keystone.

SS - Elvis Andrus, Rangers

Backup(s) - Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Gold Glove-caliber fielding plus OBP chops plus emerging stardom equal a nod for Andrus. Cabrera, meanwhile, may be the most underrated player in baseball.

3B - Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Backup(s) - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers; Mike Moustakas, Royals

Beltre's power and legendary defensive skills win out.

OF - Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

OF - Josh Hamilton, Rangers

OF - Mike Trout, Angels

Backup(s) - Austin Jackson, Tigers; Adam Jones, Orioles; Josh Reddick, A's; Mark Trumbo, Angels

Hamilton is a superstar, Bautista is an established masher who leads the majors in home runs, and Trout is a 20-year-old force of nature.

DH - David Ortiz, Red Sox

Ortiz has come to personify this "position," and in 2012 he's enjoying one of his finest campaigns (.307/.396/.621). Another easy choice.

Starting pitcher - Justin Verlander, Tigers

You can make a case for others, but Verlander is at the forefront of the discussion. Is there any other AL hurler you'd rather watch ply his trade? The reigning MVP gets the benefit of the doubt.

RHP - Jonathan Broxton, Royals

RHP - Ernesto Frieri, Angels

LHP - Matt Harrison, Rangers

RHP - Felix Hernandez, Mariners

RHP - Jim Johnson, Orioles

RHP - Joe Nathan, Rangers

RHP - Jake Peavy, White Sox

LHP - David Price, Rays

RHP - Fernando Rodney, Rays

LHP - Chris Sale, White Sox

RHP - Jered Weaver, Angels

LHP - C.J. Wilson, Angels

The AL has more worthy relievers/fewer worthy starters than you'll find in the NL. Broxton is perhaps a fringe choice, but his addition is in part a nod to the hometown fans in KC. Still, his 2.05 ERA is certainly All-Star-worthy.

Snubbed with regrets - DH Billy Butler, Royals; OF Shin-Soo Choo, Indians; RHP Yu Darvish, Rangers; SS Alcides Escobar, Royals; OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees; RHP Jason Hammel, Orioles; SS Derek Jeter, Yankees; RHP Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees; RHP Chris Perez, Indians; C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox; OF Josh Willingham, Twins; OF/2B Ben Zobrist, Rays

And there you are. So what say you, readers?

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