14 Years

The National League won last night’s All-Star Game for the first time in 14 years. How much time is that? Since that happened:

The US has had four Presidential elections.

There have been seven Winter and Summer Olympics.

I went back to and completed college.

Jason Schmidt was a young pitcher about to be traded to the Pirates.

Nomar Garciaparra was called up and has since retired.

The Milwaukee Brewers were still in the American League.

Titanic had not been released.

The Yankees hadn’t won the World Series since 1978, 18 years prior.

The Pirates had only had three losing seasons in a row.

The Macarena was not yet totally played out.

Mother Teresa and Princes Diana were still alive.

The Star Wars prequels had not been made.

Joe Dimaggio, Johnny Vander Meer and Cal Ripken Sr. were still alive.

So a lot can and has happened. Here’s to the Pirates winning a bunch of World Series in the next 14 years.

Fun note: Five players from the 1996 All-Star Game are still active this year in MLB: Chipper Jones, Jason Kendall and Mark Grudzielanek, along with 2010 All-Stars Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

Obligatory NL All-Star article

This is part I of my All-Star article. For the AL click here.

The All-Star game is in less than two weeks and in accordance with the triplicate-signed-in-blood contract I signed when I started writing about baseball, that means I am required to make public my opinions of who should be or who will be on the team. I’ll try to follow the actual rules of picking the team, which include:

21 position players (one more than last year.)
13 pitchers (pitchers who throw in the last game before the break are eligible to be chosen for the team, but may not pitch in the game.)
At least one representative from each team must be chosen.
Fans vote for the starters

With that out of the way, here we go. The current leading vote getters as of June 29:

STARTERS
C: Yadier Molina, STL (.235 avg, 3 HR, 30 RBI, .625 OPS, 0.8 WAR)
1B: Albert Pujols, STL (.312 avg, 18 HR, 57 RBI, .994 OPS, 3.0 WAR)
2B: Chase Utley, PHI (.277 avg, 11 HR, 37 RBI, .849 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
3B: Placido Polanco, PHI (.318 avg, 5 HR, 27 RBI, .782 OPS, 2.0 WAR)
SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA (.293 avg, 12 HR, 50 RBI, .873 OPS, 2.7 WAR)
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL (.299 avg, 11 HR, 49 RBI, .845 OPS, 1.0 WAR)
OF: Jason Heyward, ATL (.251 avg, 11 HR, 45 RBI, .821 OPS, 1.8 WAR)
OF: Andre Ethier, LAD (.312 avg, 12 HR, 47 RBI, .917 OPS, 0.7 WAR)

Thanks to fan balloting we already have representatives from six teams. Also, thanks to some zealous over-voting we have some guys who don’t belong on the team this year (as always). Polanco is having his normal nice season but choosing him as the starting thirdbaseman is laughable. He’s just been placed on the DL and may be passed in the voting by David Wright anyway. Molina has been the best defensive catcher in the NL the last few years so I can forgive Cardinals fans on those grounds but his bat has not been up to snuff. And the Jason Hayward Hype Machine™ has been derailed the last month by a thumb injury for which he too was just placed on the DL. Alas, the very deserving Chase Utley is also injured now and will have to be replaced. Braun and Ethier’s bad defensive ratings lower their WAR despite good batting lines.

BENCH
Catchers

Miguel Olivo, COL (.308 avg, 11 HR, 38 RBI, .909 OPS, 3.0 WAR)
Brian McCann, ATL (.259 avg, 9 HR, 32 RBI, .811 OPS, 2.3 WAR)

The only guys that should even really be considered. Both are having great years. McCann’s lowish average is due to an early season slump brought on by vision problems related to caffeine intake. He’s cut out the energy drinks and is seeing the ball much better (.234 avg, .769 OPS in April, .282/.851 in May,  .259/.809 in June).

Infield
1B Adrian Gonzalez, SD (.302 avg, 16 HR, 51 RBI, .931 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
1B Joey Votto, CIN (.313 avg, 17 HR, 54 RBI, .982 OPS, 3.4 WAR)
2B Martin Prado, ATL (.334 avg, 7 HR, 33 RBI, .859 OPS, 2.9 WAR)
2B Kelly Johnson, AZ (.261 avg, 13 HR, 35 RBI, .846 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
SS Rafael Furcal, LAD (.321 avg, 2 HR, 23 RBI, .836 OPS, 2.2 WAR)
3B David Wright, NYM (.310 avg, 14 HR, 61 RBI, .937 OPS, 3.4 WAR)
3B Ryan Zimmerman, WAS (.285 avg, 13 HR, 39 RBI, .887 OPS, 3.0 WAR)

Troy Tulowitzki (COL, .306 avg, 9 HR, 34 RBI, .877 OPS, 2.6 WAR) would have been an easy choice here if not for his injury. Scott Rolen (CIN, .301 avg, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .951 OPS, 2.7 WAR) makes the team if David Wright passes Polanco for the starting spot. Johnson is having a strong season and is the lone Diamondbacks rep.

Outfield
Matt Holliday, STL (.302 avg, 11 HR, 37 RBI, .868 OPS, 3.2 WAR)
Marlon Byrd, CHC (.311 avg, 9 HR, 35 RBI, .845 OPS, 2.9 WAR)
Andres Torres, SF (.272 avg, 3 HR, 22 RBI, .814 OPS, 2.8 WAR)
Andrew McCutchen, PIT (.298 avg, 7 HR, 24 RBI, .834 OPS, 2.0 WAR)

Holliday and Byrd are pretty obvious choices. Torres’ value is built on his speed (14 SB, 4 3B) and fielding (10.6 UZR). Cutch-22 is the easy choice as Best Available Pirate, but would merit strong consideration anyway.

Starting Pitchers
Roy Halladay, PHI (9 W, 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.52 K/9, 2.87 FIP, 3.8 WAR)
Josh Johnson, FLA (8 W, 1.83 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.92 K/9, 2.47 FIP, 3.6 WAR)
Ubaldo Jimenez, COL (14 W, 1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.12 K/9, 3.07 FIP, 3.3 WAR)
Tim Lincecum, SF (8 W, 3.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10.16 K/9, 2.88 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL (8 W, 2.56 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.91 K/9, 2.97 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Adam Wainwright, STL (11 W, 2.34 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 8.60 K/9, 3.11 FIP, 2.9 WAR)
Chris Carpenter, STL (9 W, 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7.71 K/9, 3.95 FIP, 1.6 WAR)
Mat Latos, SD (4 W, 2.85 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.25 K/9, 3.50 FIP, 1.4 WAR)
Roy Oswalt, HOU (5 W, 3.55 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 8.39 K/9, 3.51 FIP, 2.0 WAR)

Very strong top three. One of Halladay, Johnson or Jimenez needs to start the game and you wouldn’t go wrong with any choice. Oswalt has been the best Astro and its really not that close.

Relievers
Jonathan Broxton, LAD (16 Svs, 1.87 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 13.10 K/9, 0.94 FIP, 1.8 WAR)
Heath Bell, SD (21 Svs, 1.93 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 11.85 K/9, 2.10 FIP, 1.1 WAR)
Billy Wagner, ATL (15 Svs, 1.19 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 13.65 K/9, 2.25 FIP, 0.9 WAR)
Carlos Marmol, CHC (14 Svs, 2.27 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 16.65 K/9, 2.32 FIP, 1.3 WAR)

Best of the best here.

Injury Replacements
I mentioned Rolen earlier. Josh Willingham, Brandon Phillips, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Ludwick and Angel Pagan are all also posting at least 2.5 WAR so far. As for replacement pitchers, I fully expect Charlie Manuel to name Cole Hamels or Jamie Moyer to the team as replacements for one of the starters that pitches on the Sunday before.

I think my choices are pretty solid but there’s always room to quibble. Feel free to take your shots. I’ll get an AL team up before the end of the week. Click here for the AL.

All stats are from www.fangraphs.com prior to games on June 30, 2010. Any discrepancy is likely my fault.

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