July 1, 2007

Filling out the All-Star Rosters...

I already went through who deserves to start the all-star game earlier in the week, but let's take things one step further and fill out the entire 32-team rosters for each league. Obviously, you have to take into account the rule that each team must have at least one representative in the All-Star game. Yes, this is a dumb and outdated rule (my opinion: it should be required that the host team has somebody on the roster, but that's it), but it does make things a little more interesting for people like me who try to create the roster.

American League:

MLB hasn't released yet who the starters will be; for some reason, they're waiting to announce the entire team on a special show today on TBS that will attract probably 13 viewers (although I'll probably be among them). So, according to the
most recent results (from a couple days before voting ended), here's what the starting lineup would look like:

C: Ivan Rodriguez
1B: David Ortiz
2B: Placido Polanco
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
OF: Vlad Guerrero
OF: Magglio Ordonez
OF: Ichiro Suzuki

Those could have changed by the end of the voting, though the only positions in which the voting was close were catcher and outfield. Anyways, that leaves 24 more spots to fill...

Step 1: Pick the best pitchers: Usually, teams will carry 11-12 pitchers on their ASG rosters. I'll leave a couple of those slots open, for now, but here are the pitchers who absolutely have to be on the all-star roster:

Dan Haren leads all of baseball with a 1.91 ERA; he's just been dominating. He's the starter for the AL. Johan Santana's record is only 9-6, but he's gotten no run support; his 2.76 ERA is third in the AL, and he's second in the league in strikeouts. You can't have an all-star team without Santana. (
Here's a link to something I wrote on Santana yesterday.) Justin Verlander's 3.18 ERA is great, and his no-hitter was the pitching performance of the year so far. C.C. Sabathia leads the league in wins (12-2), and his 116:17 K/BB ratio is just insane. The Angels' John Lackey is often underrated, but he's got 10 wins and an ERA under three. And as far as relievers go...Seattle's J.J. Putz has a 0.95 ERA, a WHIP of 0.61, and is tied for the league lead with 23 saves. Francisco Rodriguez also has 23 saves; he's probably the best closer in all of baseball at this point. And the Twins' Pat Neshek is as dominating as a middle reliever can be; he has a 1.37 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .124 batting average. That's eight pitchers; we'll fill out the rest later.

Step 2: Select all the deserving backups: Aside from the starters, who absolutely has to be on the roster? We don't have to fill out all the backup slots yet, but we have to take all the players we can't possibly leave off.

We need at least two catchers on the roster, probably three. Fortunately, there are two very deserving backups after Pudge: Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez. Both of them would be better choices to start than Pudge is (and Posada may have passed Pudge in the voting), but they both have OPSes above .900 and both absolutely have to be on the team. At first, I can't leave reigning MVP Justin Morneau and his 20 homers off the roster. Kevin Youkilis is having a career year as well; his .416 OBP gets him onto the team also. There aren't really any other second or third basemen having spectacular seasons, but Carlos Guillen has to be Jeter's backup at short; Guillen really should be the starter, but voters like Jeter's pinstripes more than they like Guillen's 100-point edge in slugging percentage. Curtis Granderson is having a breakout year, and Torii Hunter is playing great in his contract year; their .900 OPSes are certainly worthy of roster sports, and they both play center field. There are some other outfielders who could certainly make the team, but let's stop for now.

Step 3: Fulfill the "one player from every team" requirement: So far, we have 23 players on the roster, and still no representatives from the following teams: Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Kansas City, Texas.

Toronto: Roy Halladay would normally make the team, but he just hasn't been himself this year; I considered Aaron Hill for his versatiity, but in the end, you have to go with Alex Rios, who is having a career year (17 HR, .522 SLG).
Baltimore: Jeremy Guthrie is having a fantastic year, but he was in the bullpen for the first month of the season, and besides, we still have only one second baseman. Brian Roberts is the pick.
Tampa Bay: With apologies to James Shields, A-Rod is still the team's only third baseman, and I'm starting to run low on roster spots. I'm taking B.J. Upton and playing him at third for a couple innings; he played some third last year, although he was moved off the position because he sucked there defensively.
Chicago: Since nobody besides Jim Thome is hitting at all, we've pretty much got to take the best pitcher on this team. Surprisingly enough, that pitcher is none other than Mark Buehrle, who has a 3.33 ERA and a somewhat respectable 5.94 K/9 (not good, but at least okay). By the way,, Jon Garland somehow has a 3.36 ERA despite striking out less than four batters every nine innings...don't bet on that to continue.
Kansas City: For once, the Royals actually have somebody somewhat deserving of an All-Star spot - starter Gil Meche, who has posted a 3.28 ERA and has some nice strikeout numbers.
Texas: We certainly aren't getting any pitchers here...trade bait Mark Teixeira easily deserves this spot, as he's hitting really well (.959 OPS). By the way, John Kruk seriously mentioned on Baseball Tonight last week that Sammy Sosa deserves the Rangers' spot. Sosa's OBP is .309, and he doesn't currently play a defensive position; he's hurting the Rangers, and he would certainly hurt an All-Star team.

Step 4: Fill out any open positions, get 31 players on the roster: We've got 29 players and 10 pitchers, so we should select one more pitcher and one more position player. For the pitcher, I'm going with Jonathan Papelbon - he hasn't been spectacular, but he's been very good, and relievers tend to be good choices because all the pitchers are in relief roles anyways. And one more position player...there aren't really any major holes to fill, so I'm going with Grady Sizemore - he's posted a .401 OBP hitting leadoff for the Indians, he has 23 steals, and he's a good defensive center fielder. You could make the case for another infielder here, though.

Step 5: Select five nominees for the fans' vote: For whatever reason, MLB decided that the fans need to be involved more, so they added this vote for the 32nd player on each team. Here are my five nominees:

Manny Ramirez, OF - .286/.385/.468 (BA/OBP/SLG)
Gary Sheffield, DH - .290/.401/.530
Orlando Cabrera, SS - .342/.380/.463
Casey Kotchman, 1B - .307/.382/.511
Josh Beckett, P - 3.07 ERA, 11-1

Of those five nominees, I'd probably choose Sheffield, and I'm guessing he would win (every Tigers player has done really well in the voting so far, and Beckett and Manny would split the Red Sox Nation votes).

National League:

Here's the starters, from the
most recent voting:

C: Russell Martin
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Chase Utley
3B: David Wright
SS: Jose Reyes
OF: Carlos Beltran
OF: Ken Griffey Jr.
OF: Alfonso Soriano

Some of these (SS, OF, 3B) were close, though, so there might be a couple different players when the voting is released in a couple hours.

Step 1: Pick the best pitchers: My starter is Jake Peavy; he gets the because of his strikeout numbers. I can certainly see the case for Brad Penny, though - basically the same ERA, except he doesn't play half his games in spacious PETCO Park. Chris Young's numbers are also PETCO-inflated, but his 2.14 ERA is impressive regardless. John Maine has been a very pleasant surprise for the Mets, posting a 2.74 ERA. Cole Hamels' ERA is a little high (3.87), but he's 9-4 and is second to Peavy in strikeouts. Francisco Cordero has been outstanding in the closer role for Milwaukee; he leads baseball with 27 saves. Trevor Hoffman has to be on the team; the all-time saves leader has added 23 to his total this year, as well as a 2.03 ERA. And I'm putting Billy Wagner on the team as well - he only has 16 saves, but he's given up just seven earned runs this year (1.73 ERA).

Step 2: Select all the deserving backups: First base is absolutely loaded in the NL; Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard both have to be on the team. There are plenty of other great players at the position, but let's wait and see how the roster shakes out. Miguel Cabrera should be starting at third; if he doesn't beat out Wright in the voting, we'll make room for his .979 OPS as a backup. Shortstop in the NL is even more loaded; J.J. Hardy, Edgar Renteria, and Hanley Ramirez all really should be on the team. That's a lot of shortstops, but there really aren't any other deserving second basemen besides Utley; we'll play one of these guys (Renteria?) at second. It's tough to leave Jimmy Rollins off the team, too; we'll see if we can fit him in anywhere. I don't care if you don't like the guy, Barry Bonds absolutely deserves to get on the team - he gets on base literally more than half the time he bats (.513 OBP). His 1.112 OPS is second-best in all of baseball. And the game's in San Francisco. He absolutely has to be there. Matt Holliday is also having a breakout year; he and Bonds are the two best hitters in the league, but neither will be starting. And I'm not leaving Adam Dunn off the team, either; I know he hardly ever makes contact, but he walks enough, and when he does make contact, it usually goes a long way (23 HR so far).

Step 3: Fulfill the "one player from every team" requirement: Three teams with no representatives yet: Washington (duh), Pittsburgh (duh), Houston, Arizona

Washington: God, this team is awful. I guess you have to go with Dimitri Young, who has an un-Dimitri-Young-like .893 OPS, as he's pretty much the only good player on the Nationals.
Pittsburgh: Jason Bay's a good player, but he's not performing very well this year, and besides, there's some good pitching on this team. I'm going with Ian Snell, who has a 2.90 ERA and is striking out a bunch of hitters. Tom Gorzelanny is pitching really well, too, although his numbers are slightly worse than Snell's in pretty much every category.
Houston: I'd like to put Hunter Pence on the team, but he just hasn't quite had enough at-bats, and besides, we still need some more pitching. You can never go wrong with Roy Oswalt, who is having a solid year this year (7-5, 3.42). Carlos Lee's putting up good numbers as well.

Step 4: Fill out any open positions, get 31 players on the roster: Three empty roster spots at this point. We need another catcher, and unfortunately, there really aren't any other catchers who are even close to being All-Star worthy. I'll go with Brian McCann because he's more talented than he's shown this year, but McCann, Johnny Estrada, and Bengie Molina all have pretty much the same stats. We need another pitcher - I'll take John Smoltz and his 2.98 ERA. And I'd really love to get Rollins on the roster, but there aren't any center fielders on here besides Beltran. Do you really want to see an outfield with Holliday in center, Dunn in right, and Bonds in left if the game's close in the ninth? Me neither. So I have to take Eric Byrnes, who is putting together career-high numbers in a contract year - .878 OPS, 13 HR, 15 steals - and he's a plus defensively in center.

Step 5: Select five nominees for the fans' vote: Here are my five:

Jimmy Rollins, SS - .283/.329/.507
Hunter Pence, OF - .330/.358/.562
Derrek Lee, 1B - .340/.415/.502
Matt Cain, P - 2-9, 3.38 ERA
Derek Lowe, P - 8-7, 3.03 ERA

My vote would easily be Rollins, but the voting would probably be pretty close - Rollins, Pence, and Lee could all muster some support, the Dodgers have backed a lot of their players (Lowe), and Cain would be in his home park if he got voted in.


Anonymous said...

Kevin, good work on your divisional breakdown. However, I am the only Mariners fan in the Northeast. I watch every game, even on school nights, staying up til 1 AM. I am very optimistic this season. They are now 12 games over .500. Only 1 out of the WC. You think all of their players are overachieving. Ichiro is Ichiro. Ibanez is Ibanez. Lopez was in the all-star games last year and is only at .280. Sexson is hitting .210ish with 15 Hrs. Nothing overachieving about that. Betancourt is barely above .270. The defense is among the best as it always is, every year. Oh yeah, Beltre is only at .260. They just get timely hits, as they are hitting near .430 with RISP. The fact that King Felix is so-so is bad, but they are still winning. Wash has been good as has Batista. Also, Weaver has 5 solid starts in a row. Baek, Ramirez, and Mark Lowe all get to rehab this week and should add even more depth. And the bullpen is always in the top 5 of the league. Even when they were 78-84 last year the bullpen was great. Sherill is the most dominating lefty no one knows about. Putz is nasty, 98 with a great split. Morrow walks to many but throws 98 as well. Sean Green is good and Eric O Flahrety has been tough. Now they may not make hte playoffs cuz the Angels are experienced and the WC will most likely go to CL or DET. But the Ms just know how to win. Hargrove is gone, but the team continues to step up. Love to have you comment on this.

Kevin said...

Thanks for your comment. The Mariners are a little better than I thought they were before checking them out, but I still think they're gonna fall off.

Ichiro's batting average is much higher than it's been since 2004; BA is usually very subject to luck and fluctuations, so it's not likely he's actually playing a whole lot better than he was the last two years. I'd expect his BA to drop down to the .320 range before the year ends (he's at .365 right now).

Beltre's pretty much at his career norms offensively, and Sexson is playing poorly, but he's 34 and players with his skill set tend to age poorly.

The M's BA with RISP that you mention is very important, but I think it helps my case - clutch hitting has been proven to be mostly luck, and it's not like most of these guys are famous for their clutch hitting ability. They won't be able to keep that up for 162 games, I can guarantee you that.

Their bullpen is pretty good, but can you win 85-90 games with that rotation? Washburn and Batista are solid, but not aces; you don't know what you're getting out of Felix; and everybody else who has started for the M's has an ERA above 5.50.

That was kind of long...bottom line is, their hitters aren't going to hit better, their batting with RISP will go down, and their pitching just isn't good enough.

Anonymous said...

Alright. I did agree the Mariners may miss the playoffs because of the aforementioned tough opposition. The Ms were helped a little by interleague play as in they got to play Cincy adn Pittsburgh but also got swept by Houston. They swept the Padres with the supposed best staff in baseball. That is not too shabby. The rotation is not great. Wash and Batista each have 7 wins I believe. Feirebend is a 21 year old rookie who is only there until Horacio and Baek return. Weaver has won a WS and pitched awesome in the NLCS last season, and he is pitching very capable right now in a hitters park. Felix will come around, he's a stud. That one-hitter vs Dice K proved it. Ichiro hit .303 i think last year. That was a down year. Although .365 is a large total to keep up, .345 is not. Edgar Martinez hit .357 in '95 when I was just 6 years old. The bullpen gets help with Mark Lowe coming back, who you probably have never heard of. Raffy Soriano would help. They will acquire a pitcher at the deadline. Adam Jones is expendable, was awful last year. As was Jeremy Reed. The Ms will be over .500 and will win about 86 games, maybe just enough to keep Ichiro in town.

Anonymous said...

I did mean a pitcher's park in my reference to Weaver.

Kevin said...

Thanks for writing, again. I dunno...I'm probably not giving the M's enough credit, but I just can't see them finishing any better than .500. Weaver's ERA is 6.75. Felix's ERA since that 1-hitter is 5.76; he will come around eventually, but will it be this year? He's still only 21. And, as you mentioned, they're putting up these stats in a pitcher's park. They've just been too lucky to stay this far above .500.