As All-Star rosters for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game are due to be released this weekend, its time for The Waiver Wire to release their first annual All-Star teams. Just like the actual rosters, every team has to be represented in the game, meaning that some of the fringe picks were decided based off who needs to be included in the game in order to meet the standards put in place by the commissioner’s office. Without further ado, here is the National League roster, including starters and reserves. Anything in bold represents league leader. Stats are final as of Friday, June 29th.
The Starters –
C – Yadier Molina, STL – 69 games, .316/.367/.518, 12 HR 44 RBI
Molina is putting together his best offensive season of his career. He’s only two home runs shy of tying his career-high for an entire season, and is still the premier defensive catcher in all of baseball. Carlos Ruiz is having a great season as well, but Molina is the better complete catcher and has earned this year’s starting assignment.
If you’re looking for a first half MVP, the conversation comes down to Votto and Ryan Braun. Now that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have left the NL, Votto will look to snag starting gigs at the All-Star Game for the next decade.
2B – Jose Altuve, HOU – 71 games, .309/.351/.453, 5 HR 23 RBI
Altuve has made a name for himself this season, going from an unknown quantity to the talk of baseball. One of the shortest players in the Majors (he’s listed at 5’5″), Altuve has been a spark plug at the top of the Astros line-up. He’s manage to score 45 runs and stolen 12 bases, and time will tell if he is for real. Brandon Phillips will likely get the starting gig thanks to fan voting, but it really should be the only Houston rep doing the job.
Wright is back. After having one of his worst all-around seasons last year, Wright has put his career back in the proper direction. Think about this, he already has three more doubles than he had all last year (26 vs. 23), needs only 10 more runs to reach his ’11 mark and three more hits to match his ’11 mark. He’s also played in 29 less games. So yeah, it’s been a nice season so far.
SS – Starlin Castro, CHC – 75 games, .301/.318/.437, 6 HR 39 RBI
Its been a down year for National League shortstops. Normal candidates for the starting position (Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins) are having down years. Rafael Furcal got off to a hot start he was able to maintain into June before falling off. Castro has made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year, playing a lackadaisical defense and being a possible trade candidate, but he’s having the best season of all NL shortstops.
LF – Ryan Braun, MIL – 70 games, .311/.392/.596, 20 HR 52 RBI
In an otherwise lost season in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun has shined. His play on the field has seemed to quiet the negative press he got in the offseason about a positive drug test, or enough time has passed where most who follow the game are worried about other things. If the Brewers can turn it around in the second half, Braun may find himself collecting another MVP trophy.
There isn’t enough talk around baseball supporting McCutchen’s chase of an MVP season. Nobody in the Pirates line-up has been able to come remotely close to the consistency McCutchen has supplied, who hits for power, steals bases and plays a Gold Glove-caliber center field. The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since the Barry Bonds era, and McCutchen may be their best all-around talent since Bonds left after 1992.
RF – Carlos Beltran, STL – 73 games, .312/.400/.582, 20 HR 59 RBI
Anybody who thought Carlos Beltran was no longer the elite level talent he was earlier in his career feels pretty dumb right about now. Beltran has battled minor injuries throughout the season, but nothing major has been able to keep him out of the every day line-up for a significant period of time. Will he be able to keep this up in the second half? I don’t know. But, he’s certainly earned himself a starting assignment this season.
DH – Carlos Gonzalez, COL – 69 games, .338/.395/.605, 17 HR 56 RBI, league-leading 56 runs scored
Colorado has been underwhelming for two reasons this year: Tulowitzki has been hurt, and nobody in their rotation can pitch effectively. However, CarGo has continued to mash with the best in the league. Beltran is having a better year offensively, earning him the right field starting gig, but Tony LaRussa would do well to start Gonzalez in the DH role since this game will be played in Kansas City.
Has there been a better story this season than R.A. Dickey? Its his starting assignment to lose right now. You could make a case for starting Matt Cain, a hard thrower, than sandwiching Dickey between him and Aroldis Chapman to keep AL hitters uncomfortable, but Dickey really should start. Also, any worry about a catcher not being able to handle him is ridiculous. Molina will do fine.
C – Carlos Ruiz, PHI – 69 games, .362/.429/.588 , 11 HR 43 RBI
Hard to believe that, of all the players the Phillies boast on their roster before the season started, Chooch is going to be the lone representative from the City of Brotherly Love’s starting line-up. That’s what happens when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are injured while Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino struggle to stay consistent. Well then.
C – Buster Posey, SF – 68 games, .300/.368/.481, 10 HR 40 RBI
Anyone still worried about Buster Posey’s leg? No? OK, good. Posey is in line to earn his first All-Star appearance after a strong opening half to his season. The best news for him, he hasn’t had to carry the San Francisco offense like in years past. We’ll explain in a minute.
1B – Bryan LaHair, CHC – 65 games, .279/.362/.529, 13 HR 28 RBI
No, Starlin Castro will not be the only Cub at this year’s All-Star Game. First basemen have been so underwhelming in the NL that LaHair is, quite honestly, the logical choice as the team’s reserve 1B. The only other option should be Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, and it really is a toss-up between the two. You can thank the slow starts by Freddie Freeman and Ike Davis for this.
2B – Brandon Phillips, CIN – 68 games, .289/.330/.452, 10 HR 46 RBI
DatDudeBP is having himself another nice season in Cincinnati. There’s a chance he starts this game, but at the minimum he will be one of the reserves. He’s the best all-around second baseman in the National League now that Utley is injured more often than not.
3B – David Freese, STL – 69 games, .285/.337/.492, 13 HR 47 RBI
After being the hero of last year’s playoffs for the Cardinals, Freese has come back strong the next season, putting together a complete offensive approach. Its actually a little surprising the Cardinals are going to be the most represented team in the National League having a pretty disappointing first half as a team. But, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
SS – Rafael Furacl, STL – 74 games, .283/.347/.380, 5 HR 31 RBI
Again, Furcal is going to make this team because so many other notable shortstops are having such down years across the board. Surprisingly, this will only be Furcal’s third All-Star selection,
LF – Melky Cabrera, SF – 74 games, .355/.398/.523, 7 HR 38 RBI
Yeah, nobody saw this kind of offensive season coming from the Melk Man. He had a breakout year in 2011 with Kansas City, but has done even better this year, serving as one of the team’s table-setters in front of Buster Posey. He’ll have a chance to return to KC in this year’s All-Star Game, and the Royals will be hoping Wil Meyers is the real deal, or they’re really going to regret the trade that brought them an injured Jonathan Sanchez.
CF – Michael Bourn, ATL – 75 games, .306/.351/.441, 7 HR 27 RBI, 20 stolen bases
Bourn has already established a new career-high with his seven home runs, and isn’t even running as often as he usually does. Part of that is because he’s hitting more extra-base hits, so he isn’t starting on first. He’s done more than enough to earn himself an All-Star selection, and will, surprisingly, be the only Brave represented in Kansas City. That is, unless, someone makes the mistake of “honoring” Chipper Jones with a managerial selection.
RF – Giancarlo Stanton, MIA – 74 games, .274/.353/.533, 17 HR 46 RBI
After all the news Miami made in the off-season with their huge signings and new stadium, Stanton will be the only fish to see Kansas City. He is scheduled to participate in the Home Run Derby, and is going to be worth the price of admission to that contest with his incredible power. I’m actually excited to see him participate, more excited than I was to see Josh Hamilton bash at Yankee Stadium.
SP – Matt Cain, SF – 15 starts, 9-2, 2.27 ERA, 107 Ks, 22 walks, 0.90 WHIP, threw 1st Perfect Game in SF history
Look, its a toss up between Cain and Dickey for that starting gig. You can’t go wrong either way. Both are more than deserving of their All-Star selections. The rest is just fun debate.
SP – Gio Gonzalez, WAS – 15 starts, 10-3, 2.78 ERA, 108 Ks, 35 walks, 1.08 WHIP
The Nationals starting rotation is what has not only guided them to the top of the National League East standings, but is what has kept them there. All of the praise goes to Stephen Strasburg, and rightfully so. But, do not ignore the year Gio Gonzalez is having since coming over from Oakland. Without him, the Nationals aren’t in the position they are currently.
SP – Stephen Strasburg, WAS – 15 starts, 9-2, 2.60 ERA, 118 strikeouts, 23 walks, 1.04 WHIP (leads league with 11.8 K/9)
There is no question Strasburg will be chosen to represent the NL. You could make the case that he should be the second pitcher in the game, backing up Dickey’s knuckleball with pure heat. The question is, will the Nationals even let him pitch, given his innings limit?
SP – Clayton Kershaw, LAD – 16 starts, 5-4, 2.74 ERA, 103 Ks, 27 walks, 1.04 WHIP
Kershaw hasn’t gotten any run support this year, and you could make the case that Chris Capuano is the more deserving Dodger pitcher to make the team thanks in large part to his strong start. However, Kershaw is still the face of the rotation, and is having an All-Star caliber season.
SP – Wade Miley, ARI – 12 starts (3 relief appearances), 9-3, 2.19 ERA, 64 Ks, 18 walks, 1.01 WHIP
That’s right, the Diamondbacks lone representative on this year’s team will be their lesser known rookie starting pitcher entering the season. Not Justin Upton. Not Chris Young. Not Ian Kennedy. Not even phenom Trevor Bauer. Wade Miley has opened eyes this year, and he should be selected and acknowledged for his rookie accomplishments.
SP – Madison Bumgarner, SF – 16 starts, 10-4, 2.85 ERA, 92 Ks, 22 walks, 1.06 WHIP
Bumgarner has come on as of late. This spot on the All-Star team really came down between him, Cole Hamels and Lance Lynn. The wheels have begun to fall of Lynn’s bandwagon, and Hamels has had some rough starts of his own. Bumgarner signed a big contract earlier this year, and, like Cain, he’s done nothing to disappoint the Giants for the investment.
SP – James McDonald, PIT- 15 starts, 7-3, 2.44 ERA, 86 Ks, 26 walks, 0.98 WHIP
McDonald, along with A.J. Burnett (the same guy the Yankees traded away) have led the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation this year. Which is good, because, again, outside of Andrew McCutchen, they’ve got nothing going offensively. McDonald has finally lived up to the high expectations he had as a prospect, and has opened plenty of eyes around the league.
SP – Johnny Cueto, CIN – 16 starts, 9-4, 2.26 ERA, 79 Ks, 25 walks, 1.14 WHIP
Would you believe me if I told you that, over the last year-plus, Johnny Cueto has the lowest ERA among qualified starting pitchers? Well, you should, because I would never lie to you. Shockingly enough, this will be his first All-Star Game selection
RP – Craig Kimbrel, ATL – 29 games, 0-1, 1.55 ERA, 22 saves, 48 Ks, 10 walks, 0.79 WHIP
After leading the league in saves last season, Kimbrel is at it again. He’s looking to make his second All-Star team in as many seasons. He’s easily been the most dominant reliever in the NL, and he should be the one who enters the game in a save situation, should the team get to that point.
RP – Huston Street, SD – 20 games, 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 11 saves, 24 Ks, 6 walks, 0.74 WHIP
Well, someone has to represent the Padres. It won’t be Yonder Alonso, or Carlos Quentin (he’s just been too injured). Won’t be Edinson Volquez. So, guess its Street by default.
RP – Jonathan Papelbon, PHI – 30 games, 2-2, 3.03 ERA, 18 saves, 37 Ks, 7 walks, 1.08 WHIP
And Johnny Paps is the only Phillies pitcher to be present in Kansas City. Not Roy Halladay (injury). Not Cliff Lee (winless). Not Cole Hamels (struggling recently). Only Papelbon. What a strange year for a team once viewed as the best in the entire National League. (Suck it, Philly. That’s karma.)
RP – Joel Hanrahan, PIT – 31 games, 3-0, 2.10 ERA, 20 saves, 35 Ks, 15 walks, 1.07 WHIP
Count ‘em. Three Pittsburgh Pirates will be representing the team in Kansas City. Three. Who would’ve thunk it? Hanrahan has been one of the best closers in baseball the last two seasons, but he’s been hidden on the Pirates until last year. This will mark his second consecutive All-Star appearance.
RP – Aroldis Chapman, CIN – 32 games, 4-4, 1.98 ERA, 9 save, 64 Ks, 12 walks, 0.77 WHIP
There is almost no way for Chapman not to be on the All-Star team. He’s so dynamic as far as how many innings he could go out of the bullpen. He will be one of the few pitchers with the ability to touch 100 MPH on the radar gun. He will see action in this game. The question is, what will the situation be?
RP – Santiago Casilla, SF – 34 games, 1-3, 2.70 ERA, 21 saves, 28 Ks, 10 walks, 1.20 WHIP
All thought the season would be lost for the Giants bullpen when Brian Wilson was lost for injury just two innings into his season. Along comes Santiago Casilla, who has bounced around the league for a number of years, but has found himself a comfortable home at the end of the San Francisco ‘pen. His high saves total and effeciency at the end of games make him one of those valuable relievers managers like to carry these days.
B – Andre Ethier, LAD – 75 games, .291/.357/.491, 10 HR 55 RBI
The last spot on the All-Star team bench comes down to if a manager wants to add another pitcher or have a bat they can use in a pinch-hitting role late in the game. Ethier is having too good of a season to ignore. The only chance he misses the game is if the oblique injury keeping him out of the line-up currently turns into something more.
Bryce Harper, WSH
Yes, Bryce Harper has been a fantastic addition to the MLB landscape. Yes, he’s certainly improved the Nationals line-up. However, name one of the players listed above him who Harper is having a better season then. Andre Ethier? Even then, I’d probably side with Andre 3000. Harper is going to be one of those players in the Final 5 vote, and he’ll probably win it.
Angel Pagan, SF
Pagan has done an amazing job since coming to the Giants in an off-season trade with the Mets. Along with Cabrera and Posey, Pagan has been a huge reason for the Giants early success. And yet, I really don’t miss him at all. That may be the strangest part of it all.
Martin Prado, ATL
He’s had a nice season in Atlanta, but nothing about his start says “All Star”. Again, he’s another candidate for the Final 5 vote. Unlike Harper, I don’t see him winning it.
Chris Capuano, LAD
Capuano, like Hamels and Lynn, is likely to just miss the game itself despite putting together a very worthy first half.