Last week I took a gander at the superior American League's current All-Star standings. It only seems fair and logical that I now give the Senior Circuit their turn. For those too lazy to click the first link or those who simply forgot (or didn't seem to read it last time), I take a look at the top two vote-getters and compare them to the two most deserving candidates. I may mention a third at the position, but more often than not will not.
C: Buster Posey-SF (785,314) and Brian McCann-ATL (633,987).
The fans absolutely nailed this one. And then Buster Posey got hurt. Seeing as injured people ultimately don't deserve All-Star berths, Brian McCann and his monster bat (.363 wOBA, .848 OPS) move into the top slot. Injuries to Joe Mauer and Posey have given McCann the chance to finally be recognized all over the country as an elite catcher. So who takes his spot as the backup? Miguel Montero, a player not even in the top five for fan votes. Montero's OPS has been hovering around .800 all season and is at worst average behind the plate. The only other player with an honest shot to replace either of these two should be Yadier Molina.
1B: Albert Pujols-STL (988,784) and Joey Votto-CIN (806,346).
In truly one of the stranger happenings of this young season, Albert Pujols has been less deserving of an All-Star nod than even Todd Helton. Joey Votto is the true top candidate, despite only currently having 8 homeruns. His triple slash line of .335/.464!/.522 shows his true value though. Look at that OBP! It's insane. I also enjoy that he'll end the year with double digit SB totals. Joey Votto rubs the salt into the wounds of NL pitchers. Prince Fielder should be right behind him, as he somehow continues his strange ability to absolutely mash in odd-numbered years. Seriously, go look at his numbers. It's eerie. His 17 homeruns tie him for the league lead and an OPS around 1.000 is always deserving of a trip to the Mid-Summer Classic.2B: Brandon Phillips-CIN (837,778) and Rickie Weeks-MIL (562,071).
Rickie Weeks finally reached his potential last season (and stayed healthy for it) and has been doing the same this year. He won't match last seasons power numbers (29 homeruns), but will easily top 20 homers again while giving Milwaukee a great bat at the keystone. I am digging the seeming trend of the most deserving candidate being in second place in the standings so far. We'll see if that keeps up. His alternate is surprising if you pay little to no attention to the Nationals. Danny Espinosa has quietly been putting together a very strong season in the nation's capitol. True, his .218 BA is pretty ugly looking, but he still has a .753 OPS in spite of it. He's another legit 20 homerun bat with a chance for 15 steals. Brandon Phillips could pass him with a few hot weeks.
3B: Placido Polanco-PHI (724,724) and Chipper Jones-ATL (562,071).
So much for my trend. Placido Polanco has surprisingly (at least to me) been the best third baseman in the National League this year. His bat is only around league average, but he plays great defense at the hot corner and the team will already be getting enough pop from other positions that it can sacrifice a power bat in a traditional power spot. Or just bring in Arizona's Ryan Roberts when Bruce Bochy thinks it's time for some oomph at the plate. Roberts has had the strongest bat at 3B this season in the NL, but lacks the track record for this kind of success and good enough defense to pass up Polanco. If he keeps hitting it hard though, expect to see his name start moving up the charts.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki-COL (975,777) and Jimmy Rollins-PHI (408,699).
Troy is having a good season so far, but only good enough to be the replacement player in this contest. Jose Reyes seems to have finally overcome his myriad of health problems to regain his title as top NL SS. Reyes may only have as many homeruns as Juan Pierre (1 for those keeping score), but he also already has 11 triples and 20 stolen bases. A .906 OPS out of the leadoff spot is a pretty sexy thing. It's always nice to see someone bounce back to their lofty career high levels. Good for you Jose. Good for you. Tulo's 11 homeruns and stellar defense are just enough for him to nudge out Stephen Drew for the second spot at short, though this could change if Troy doesn't start getting on base at a better rate (.335).
OF: Ryan Braun-MIL (971,809), Matt Holliday-STL (927,778), Lance Berkman-STL (872,434), Andre Ethier-LAD (776,971), Matt Kemp-LAD (549,241), Jason Heyward-ATL (484,291).
I'm officially mad for the first time with this ballot. The most deserving candidate doesn't even appear in the top 15. But I guess that's what happens when you play for the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen is well on his way to a 20-30 season with amazing center field defense. But alas, the Steel City is a forgotten place. He'll still make the team, but it's not fair that he'll only do so as a reserve. If the three most deserving were selected as starters, it would be one of the more impressive outfields in some time: McCutchen in center, Matt Kemp in right, and Ryan Braun in left. Kemp and Braun have been having very similar seasons, with Kemp hitting for a little more power right now giving him the number two spot just ahead of the Hebrew Hammer. If the worthy backups are chosen, the NL All-Star outfield would consist of 5 NL Central members. Drew Stubbs, Lance Berkman, and Colby Rasmus all deserve to take the trip to Phoenix as backups. How Lance Berkman has managed a .444 wOBA while playing outfield everyday is beyond me.