My case for the All-Star Game rosters (with no Verlander)
Matt Harvey is the pick to start the All-Star Game for the NL. In the AL, Justin Verlander won't even make the team.
With 34 All-Star picks for each league (and a couple extra ones due to injury), it should be easy to fill a team. And yet, there were still many tough choices. Here were a few of the toughest:
Matt Harvey gets the NL start over Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright and several other worthy candidates. Harvey has been the most dominating pitcher in the league, and the Citi Field tiebreaker doesn't hurt, either.
Nelson Cruz and Jacoby Ellsbury take the backup outfield spots in the AL over Nick Markakis, Brett Gardner, Nate McLouth, Alex Gordon, Daniel Nava and Alex Rios. I'll go with the best power and best speed, but I can't argue too strenuously against any of the others.
Evan Gattis was a great early-season tale and I found a spot for him, too.
Here are my full All-Star teams, with all 30 teams represented:
2B Jason Kipnis, Indians. Led baseball in OPS and on-base percentage in June. Beats out two great ones here.
SS J.J. Hardy, Orioles. Some reservations with the .256 batting average. Close call.
OF Adam Jones, Orioles. Yes, the Orioles do have quite a nucleus.
SP Max Scherzer, Tigers. I've heard the rumor that wins don't count anymore. But 13-0 always counts here (especially when the other numbers show great consistency).
AL bench and bullpen
1B Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays. Tough to ignore 23 home runs.
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees. He's run hot and cold. Right now, he's hot.
2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox. The heart and soul of the first-place Red Sox.
SS Jhonny Peralta, Tigers. Off to a very nice start and will be the choice of many.
3B Josh Donaldson, A's. Amazing he gets a spot considering the third-base logjam at third. Impressive .908 OPS.
3B Manny Machado, Orioles. Yes, I know four third basemen are a lot. But he has been brilliant.
OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers. Tough call for my final two outfield spots. Markakis, Gardner, McLouth, Gordon, Nava and Alex Rios are all equally worthy.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox. Last two outfield spots are practically coin flips. He hasn't shown the power you'd expect, but he leads the league with 33 stolen bases and seven triples.
SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners. Having his usual fabulous season.
SP Yu Darvish, Rangers. Quite simply, worth every penny of that mega investment.
SP Bartolo Colon, A's. Amazing comeback gets even better.
SP Clay Buchholz, Red Sox. Would be the starter, if healthy. As it is, he's out.
SP Justin Masterson, Indians. He has become the ace Cleveland needs.
SP Derek Holland, Rangers. Texas really knows what it's doing.
RP Glen Perkins, Twins. Can see why Twins don't want to trade him.
RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees. All-time greatest reliever still at his peak.
RP Joe Nathan, Rangers. As good as ever in Texas.
RP Grant Balfour, A's. Has converted 39 straight save opportunities.
RP Casey Janssen, Jays. Quietly having terrific season.
1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. A dead heat with Joey Votto, but he seems a bit more indispensable on his team. Leads NL with 69 RBI (yes, they still count here).
2B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals. No surprise, Cardinals' idea to get more offense at second base is working. Gets call with .881 OPS.
C Yadier Molina, Cardinals. Another close one with reigning MVP Buster Posey. Molina gets it because he's the MVP candidate this year. Leads league with .351 batting average while handling terrific staff.
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies. Big-time two-way star. Leads league with .605 slugging percentage.
OF Michael Cuddyer, Rockies. A 27-game hitting streak isn't too shabby.
SP Matt Harvey, Mets. Home field is the tiebreaker in an exceedingly strong field. Leads NL in WHIP (0.91) and strikeouts (141)
NL bench and bullpen
1B Joey Votto, Reds. An MVP candidate, though he isn't starting here.
2B Brandon Phillips, Reds. He has been a bit of a slump since some early June beanings, but we need him for defense.
SS Jean Segura, Brewers. Awesome talent has delivered big. Gets the call in Tulo's place.
C Buster Posey, Giants. One of the best five players in the game. Hurts not to start him.
C Evan Gattis, Braves. Big impact though not a starter and hurt at the moment.
C Russell Martin, Pirates. Doing a terrific job with the Pirates staff. One of the best free-agent signings of the winter.
OF Carlos Beltran, Cardinals. Still has big-time power and is a big-time player.
OF Bryce Harper, Nats. Dynamic player deserves a spot despite missing time.
OF Yasiel Puig, Dodgers. The June 3 call-up is a sensation, with seven games with at least three hits. Incredible performance necessitates making team. No attendance charts are consulted here, only impact.
OF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates. He's getting a bit of help in Pittsburgh this year.
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. As usual, brilliant. Leads NL with 1.93 ERA and 5.1 WAR.
SP Adam Wainwright, Cardinals. Showing he's worth the $97.5 million investment, and then some. Has 117 strikeouts and 13 walks.
SP Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks. Consistently excellent. With a little support he'd be better than 9-1.
SP Cliff Lee, Phillies. So good the Phillies feel they can't afford to trade him despite $25 million salary.
SP Jeff Locke, Pirates. Hitters say he is unhittable at times.
SP Jordan Zimmermann, Nats. He has been their ace, which is saying something on that staff.
SP Mike Leake, Reds. Forget that talk about pulling him out of the rotation.
SP Shelby Miller, Cardinals. Star in the making.
SP Stephen Strasburg, Nats. Maybe not all-world, but an All-Star nonetheless.
SP Mike Minor, Braves. Left-hander is putting it all together.
RP Edward Mujica, Cardinals, Making him closer was another wise Cardinals move.
RP Craig Kimbrel, Braves. Not sure how he ever gets hit.
RP Jason Grilli, Pirates. The best reliever in the majors this year.
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