I don't envy being in Terry Francona's position right now. His Cleveland Indians roster has largely underachieved to start 2017 and is in a tussle with the Minnesota Twins for first place. Injuries to star players haven't helped, and while trying to figure out how to gain some separation in the divisional race, Francona now has to figure out soon who gets the honor of being called an All-Star.
Lucky for Francona fans will help decide the position starters. As of Monday, the American League starters were the following:
First Base: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston
Shortstop: Carlos Correa, Houston
Third Base: Miguel Sano, Minnesota
Outfield: Aaron Judge, New York
Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles (Injured, will not play)
Outfield: George Springer, Houston
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Seattle
While that takes care of nine players, Francona still has to figure out who the other 23 players will be.
For fun, I thought to put myself in Francona's shoes and fill out the entire American League All-Star roster following this format:
- 32 player roster
- Have to take a player from every team
- Carry three catchers
- Carry at least six starting pitchers
Grant Brisbee wrote about the pending National League All-Star roster and selected players based not only on how they have performed for the first three months but also their career. I do respect that opinion because it's an exhibition game and fans deserve to see the best players. However, I do like the randomness of seeing new faces, and they too should be honored for their achievement, albeit in a small sample size.
Below is my full American League All-Star roster with thoughts.
American League Starters
|C||Gary Sanchez||NY Yankees|
|OF||Aaron Judge||NY Yankees|
Yup, I'm pulling the homer card putting Avisail Garcia in the starting lineup. With Mike Trout out, I think it's Aaron Judge, George Springer, and X, with "X" being one of these three: Avi, Mookie Betts, Lorenzo Cain. Both Betts and Cain easily are better than Avi defensively which should come to no surprise. What's working in Avi's favor is his bat as he possesses better splits than Betts and Cain, and his 131 wRC+ is 16 points higher than Cain, 21 points better than Betts. If I have to pick between offense or defense to watch in the All-Star game, I vote for the offense. Thus, Avi gets the nod.
The Kansas City faithful are doing, again, a terrific job of getting Eric Hosmer on the All-Star team even though there are far more deserving first baseman. I gave the nod to Yonder Alonso over Justin Smoak because of his slightly higher wOBA and wRC+, though I do have Smoak on the team as a reserve.
American League Reserves
|C||Salvador Perez||Kansas City|
|SS||Andrelton Simmons||LA Angels|
|OF||Lorenzo Cain||Kansas City|
I had a difficult time finding representatives for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. With a comfortable lead, it appears Nelson Cruz will be selected, and he can play an inning or two in the outfield if necessary. The only Ranger position player I considered adding was Joey Gallo, but I decided against it going with a pitcher to represent them.
One notable omission is no Francisco Lindor. Needing a player from each team was a factor, and I believe Andrelton Simmons has played well enough to replace Mike Trout repping the Angels.
American League Pitchers
|SP||Luis Severino||NY Yankees|
|RP||Dellin Betances||NY Yankees|
|RP||Blake Parker||LA Angels|
Chris Sale is going to start the All-Star game which was one of the easier decisions to make. For the other starters, I do feel Chris Archer, Michael Fulmer, Luis Severino and Lance McCullers are very deserving. Yu Darvish is the lone Ranger and gets a seat.
When it comes to the bullpen, I pulled out the homer card again picking Tommy Kahnle over Houston's Will Harris. If you want to fight me having Harris on the roster, I can be convinced to replace Dellin Betances with him. No, I didn't consider saves into my bullpen decision-making because many closers do not have great seasons.
Constructing the full roster was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. Obviously, my choices are probably going to be a lot different than the actual AL roster as players skip out of the festivities, but I feel my choices recognize the best first half performances.