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Projecting the 2011 NL All-Star team

Jun 15, 2011, 3:38 PM EDT

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder AP

With one month until the game, he’s my first attempt to project the NL All-Star roster.  The team will have 34 players, usually 21 hitters and 13 pitchers.  Remember that all 16 teams need to be represented.

Catcher
Locks: None
Possibilies: Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Chris Iannetta, Ramon Hernandez, Jonathan Lucroy

With Buster Posey down, I thought Molina would cruise in winning the popular vote for the third straight year. However, now it looks like McCann might get to start an All-Star Game for the first time. He’s currently 300,000 votes ahead of Molina.

It will be interesting to see if Molina makes the squad if he’s not voted in. He got off to a great start offensively, but he’s cooled now and he’s not having his usual success throwing out basestealers. Montero looks like he’ll have a pretty good case for the spot, but since he’s another left-handed hitter, he doesn’t exactly compliment McCann.

First base
Locks: Albert Pujols
Possibilities: Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Gaby Sanchez, Todd Helton

I’d like to say Votto is a lock, but he’s second to Pujols in the balloting and he wasn’t picked as a reserve last year. He only made the team by winning the fan’s Final Vote as the 34th player.

Even with Adrian Gonzalez out of the mix, first base is stacked. Pujols seems likely to win the vote now that he’s overcome his rough start. With the DH spot available, the NL could take four first basemen and start both Pujols and Votto. Fielder should be the third man in. Howard could well be the fourth, even though he’s not having the season that Sanchez is.

Second base
Locks: None
Possibilities: Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks, Chase Utley, Neil Walker, Danny Espinosa, Kelly Johnson, Justin Turner

I think Weeks is pretty much a sure thing to make the team, even though he’s currently 300,000 votes back of Phillips. Utley is as 470,000 votes back and probably has too big of a gap to make up. Besides Weeks, no NL second baseman is having a very good year. Excluding Utley’s 20 games, Daniel Murphy is the only even occasional second baseman with a .750 OPS and he’s playing first now.

That said, I do think Walker has a shot here. He’s driven in 42 runs already.

Third base
Locks: Placido Polanco
Possibilites: Chipper Jones, Ryan Roberts, Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Headley, Scott Rolen, Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez

Injuries have really decimated the competition here. Polanco is the vote leader by a cool 630,000 ballots over Jones, and it’s hard to see that changing. Chipper deserves to go as the backup as long as he’s still healthy in mid-July.

Roberts could be an option if the NL insists on taking a utilityman, like it did with Omar Infante last year.

Shortstop
Locks: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes
Possibilities: Stephen Drew, Jimmy Rollins, Starlin Castro, Alex Gonzalez

Tulo is going to win the vote, and Reyes is pretty much guaranteed of a spot as a backup. Drew is the obvious choice if the NL takes a third shortstop, and given the lack of quality options at second or third, it might as well.

Outfield
Locks: Ryan Braun
Possibilities: Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Pence, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Ryan Ludwick, Mike Stanton, Carlos Beltran, Mike Morse, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Young, Justin Upton, Martin Prado, Drew Stubbs, Shane Victorino, Kosuke Fukudome

Berkman and Holliday have substantial leads over Ethier and Kemp in the balloting, so it looks like they’ll go. As much as Votto deserves to start for the NL, the team would actually be better off putting Kemp or McCutchen into the starting lineup and using Berkman as a DH. Otherwise, it’s going to Holliday in center field to start.

Pence is the obvious choice to go as the Astros’ rep, and it’s hard to imagine Bruce being overlooked.  It’d be nice to see Beltran get a nod for his performance this year, but it’s probably for the best that he takes the three days off to rest up.

Starting Pitchers
Locks: Roy Halladay
Possibilities: Jair Jurrjens, Cole Hamels, Tommy Hanson, Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin, Anibal Sanchez, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez, Tim Stauffer, Ian Kennedy, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Cliff Lee, Jaime Garcia

It still too early to try to make the calls here, though I am listing Halladay as a lock.  A few spots will likely come down to who pitches the Sunday before the game.

Relievers
Locks: None
Possibilities: Brian Wilson, Heath Bell, Leo Nunez, Joel Hanrahan, J.J. Putz, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonny Venters, Huston Street, Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero, Craig Kimbrel, Drew Storen, John Axford, Mike Adams, Tyler Clippard, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall

I’ll be pretty upset if Venters isn’t selected.  He’s been the NL’s best reliever all year long.

OK, let’s give it a try:

NL All-Star team

Lineup
3B Placido Polanco
DH Joey Votto
1B Albert Pujols
LF Ryan Braun
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Lance Berkman
CF Matt Holliday
C Brian McCann
2B Brandon Phillips

Bench
C Yadier Molina
1B Prince Fielder
1B Ryan Howard
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Chipper Jones
SS Jose Reyes
SS Stephen Drew
OF Matt Kemp
OF Andrew McCutchen
OF Jay Bruce
OF Hunter Pence
OF Mike Stanton

Pitchers

Roy Halladay
Tommy Hanson
Cole Hamels
Jair Jurrjens
Tim Lincecum
Clayton Kershaw
Shaun Marcum

Brian Wilson
Heath Bell
Jonny Venters
Joel Hanrahan
Drew Storen
Carlos Marmol

I didn’t have a Cub in my original go, so Marmol squeezed Ryan Madson out of a slot.  Sean Marshall might be an even better choice, but I’m already pushing my luck by picking one setup man.

The Nationals got their selection in Storen, though Tyler Clippard would be just as good.  Jordan Zimmermann is starting to look like a candidate, too.

As it turned out, Stanton makes it as the lone Marlin.  Leo Nunez and Anibal Sanchez were near misses.

I held back with the Giants, even though Bruce Bochy will want some of his own players on there. He might have gone with Freddy Sanchez as a reserve infielder, but that’s no longer a possilbility.  I’m sure he’ll squeeze one of his starting pitchers on the team, whether it’s Lincecum, Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner.  Also, Wilson will likely be reserved for closing duties if there’s a save opportunity.

  1. spudchukar - Jun 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    Matt, I think you overlooked a possible reliever. Fernando Salas. He is 13 out of 14 in save opportunities, with a 3-0 record, 1.82 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP. This isn’t only a Cards’ fans opinion, over at Fangraphs they selected him to their hypothetical team.

    • Dianne - Jun 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      And another reliever: Sergio Romo, 3-0 record, 32/4 so/w, 0.76 WHIP. Plus, he’s fun to watch.

      • sayheykidwschamp - Jun 15, 2011 at 6:05 PM

        I gotta add Javier Lopez for a reliever lefty specialist and Ryan Vogelsong for starter..Vogelsong is actually doing better than Lincecum over the past 5 outings. Other than that, all of our great position players are out for the season…except for Sandoval…too bad he just got back from the DL.

        I want Lincecum there, but he tends to choke during the ASgames for some reason. Cain or Vogelsong might perform better. Home Field advantage was really beneficial last year…where it is hard for the AL power bats to acclimate to AT&T…it get’s in their heads.

  2. bobulated - Jun 15, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    While it would be an honor for Venters to be selected I would hope he doesn’t pitch; Fredi will be using him until Jonny breaks Mike Marshall’s record (106 games) or his arm falls off, whichever comes first.

  3. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 15, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    How much more interesting is the NL All-Star team than the AL? Oh right, thats because ONE team will have over HALF of the starters in the AL.

  4. michiganbird - Jun 15, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    Why can’t Montero say nice things about McCann just because he’s left handed?

    • spudchukar - Jun 15, 2011 at 5:15 PM

      Kudos.

  5. natstowngreg - Jun 15, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Being prejudiced of course, but I’d love to see Tyler Clippard make it. Just to give setup guys more recognition — instead of following the usual formula of starting pitchers going one inning each, followed by closers. If it can’t be Clippard, some other righty setup guy like Mike Adams or Sergio Romo to pair with Venters.

  6. revis24 - Jun 15, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    No love for Dillon Gee? A rookie pitcher thats 7-0 with a 3.05 ERA! Should at least make the list for potenial all starts no?

    • nps6724 - Jun 15, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      Just too many good starters ahead of him.

  7. nps6724 - Jun 15, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    I’d have to say Brian McCann is a lock whether he’s voted in or not. If Yadi jumps him, there’s no way he doesn’t get picked.

  8. dmackali1 - Jun 15, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Sergio Romo should be on the reliever list he’s one of the best 8 inning setup man its a shame he doesn’t get any recognition. heres his stats
    GP GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO W L SV HLD BLSV WHIP ERA
    2011 Regular Season 29 0 0 0 19.2 11 5 5 1 4 32 3 0 0 9 1 0.76 2.29

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