The Baseball Blogger's Alliance, which I've written about once or twice before, is voting on All-Star rosters this year. The ballots are due a bit early, so I'm casting mine before it gets too late. Plus, the All-Star Game may be three weeks away yet, but three weeks go by a lot quicker than you think. Of course there's always the chance that, three weeks from now, I'll want someone else starting the game, but I think that's pretty unlikely. These selections should do me pretty well.
A quick note about my All-Star philosophy: I definitely prescribe to the "best players should be playing the game" philosophy, but there's a little wiggle-room in my mind. Is the player with the best WAR through July necessarily the best player in the league? And what about the "special players" - your Ichiros, your Heywards - who are having good years, but not necessarily the best years? My personal All-Star team has to take all of this into consideration.
Keeping that in mind, my selections as of today are:
Morneau did not deserve his MVP in 2006. But the player the voters thought they were voting for that year is who we're seeing in flesh-and-bone this year. He is fully deserving of an All-Star start. In the NL, I have to choose Pujols, even if WAR says Adrian Gonzalez is having the better year. Pujols is the best player in baseball, and he happens to be having a pretty darn good year.
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Utley's season may not be quite up to par with some of his recent seasons, but he's still the best second baseman in baseball. And Robinson Cano, despite being a Yankee, may be having the most underrated season in the big leagues this year. It's funny, I remember Cano having a great 2007 campaign and then bottoming out in 2008. Even though he had another solid year in '09, I've always told myself that he just isn't as good as people thought. Clearly that just isn't true.
The best third baseman in baseball wants to make sure you don't take his cap. He'll go through a lot of trouble to get it back. In the NL, there are a couple of good choices. David Wright is having a solid year, even if the New York media wants you to believe something else, and Scott Rolen has visited the Fountain of Youth. My personal preference is Washington's Ryan Zimmerman, though, so he's my pick.
Hanley Ramirez may be the best player not named Albert Pujols in the NL. That's an easy pick. The AL isn't so easy, though, with no one really jumping out. For this choice, I relied exclusively on WAR, which has rewarded Gonzalez for his 13 HRs and solid defense.
Ichiro is one of my favorite players ever so, until he starts embarrassing himself, he'll always have a spot on my roster. Josh Hamilton somehow has 17 HRs and is batting .339 with a .996 OPS. That's phenomenal. The third spot goes to Carl Crawford, who is putting together another all-around great season down in Tampa. On the NL side, there's no way I'm not voting for either Ryan Braun or Jason Heyward. Ethier has also put together a great year, even with his stint on the DL earlier.
Okay, maybe I lied above. Joe Mauer is probably the best player in baseball, and just because he isn't pushing .400 with 20 HRs so far this year doesn't mean he isn't having a great year. In the NL, it was a toss-up between Olivo and Brian McCann. Olivo might be a little better behind the plate, though, and, at age 31, he's never been an All-Star before. he gets my vote.
AL: Vladimir Guerrero, Texas Rangers
This might be the easiest call on the ballot. Vlad seemed all but washed up last year, but he's been raking since day one down in Texas. There just isn't any other DH worth considering over good ol' Vlad.
AL: Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners
NL: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies
As obvious of a choice as Ubaldo Jimenez is, it's rather amazing to realize that Josh Johnson and Jaime Garcia have nearly as good of a case. It was a little tougher in the American League, as the top pitchers all seem to better at certain things.
I'm giving the nod to David Price, though, for his 2.45 ERA, 10-3 record (I know, I know!), and his 73 strikeouts in 91 innings. Jon Lester might even have the better case, despite his 3.03 ERA. I originally put David Price here, but then I realized I had completely forgotten about Cliff Lee. Lee is without a doubt the AL All-Star starter. The man just keeps posting incredible numbers and proving to everybody that he isn't a fluke. One wonders when some team will settle down with him.
I know some of my choices may feel a little inconsistent. But I've always been a fan of the subjective nature of the All-Star Game, so I'm quite alright with that. I know the game has changed some in recent years (with the "this time it counts" nonsense and all of that), but if you don't think these teams could get the job done as constructed, I'd say your crazy. But maybe I'm wrong... you tell me.