Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Knurve's National League All-Star Ballot

Here are my picks for the National League All-Stars. Be sure to check out my American League All-Star picks, too.

It will be: Brian McCann
When I reflect on McCann, I love thinking about how he was the afterthought to Jeff Francoeur when they were called up in 2005. To think Franceour would flame out and McCann would turn into, in my opinion, the best catcher in baseball was not expected. That opinion is an article for another time, but with an average over .300 and 14 dingers, he's the anchor for the Braves underperforming offense. This spot is his again, and nobody's going to take it from him.

It could be: Miguel Montero
Filling this spot is like what I imagine parents feel when they're going to have twins: you're really excited about having one, but you realize you have to pay for two of these. Terrible jokes aside, Montero has been pretty solid on a pretty solid Diamondbacks offense this season. Catching has always been a weaker position, but there's a large contingent of average catchers after McCann, and I think Montero is the best of the average. Jon Lucroy, Ramon Hernandez, and Yadier Molina deserve mentions. The other notable in this group gets his own sentence: Chris Ianetta. If this guy could hit even .250 then he'd be almost as valuable as McCann, but Mr. Mendoza's line is hard to stomach.

First Base
It will be: Joey Votto
...and this disappoints me. I think I can make a pretty good case that Votto is not an All-Star, but I am pretty confident he'll get the votes to be a starter. Everybody wants to tout the season he's had, but at the end of the day he's got very little to show for it. His value is in his batting eye and he's fantastic at drawing walks and scoring runs, but he's only on pace for a 20/100 season, and the guy that SHOULD be starting at first base is almost at 20/100 in the first half.

It should be: Prince Fielder
This is a large man making a large case for a large contract. Goodness, this man deserves to start. Who would have thought Fielder could make a better case for a bigger contract than Albert Pujols, but I am starting to believe it was going to happen even before Pujols went down. Fielder is having a spectacular year, on pace for a 40/140 year, which is absurd. I am glad the Brew Crew is having a great year both because Fielder is keepin' it so real and because I think the Brewers will take the NL Pennant.

Second Base
It will be: Rickie Weeks
You really have to give this guy credit. When he's healthy, he's nasty, and he's been a great leadoff hitter at the top of this pungent lineup. His speed numbers are a little down, but he's been a solid contributor overall. And when you have Fielder and that Ryan Braun guy swinging like they're hitting with a tennis racket, it really helps bring Weeks home.

It should be: Danny Espinosa
Yeah, I said should. It's bold, but it's deserved. He's hit more homers, driven in more runs and stolen more bases than Weeks. I'm convinced if Espinosa had Braun and Fielder (hmmm) behind him, he could score more runs. This guy seems to have it all, and if the Nats pony up and spend some bills this winter, he could become a fantasy stud. The batting average might not get much better, but I can see him evolving into a better version of Weeks or Ian Kinsler.

It will be: Jose Reyes
Is there even a question? This guy has done absolutely everything he can to help the Mets. Get this guy on a winning team, please. It's been great to see what he can do when he's healthy, and it's been truly astounding. The Mets basically build Citi Field for Reyes' swing and he seems to have figured it out. He has 15 triples for goodness sakes. His career high in the category is 19. Watching Reyes play baseball is a lot of fun. Whichever team gets him will be making a worthy investment.

It could be: Troy Tulowitzki
Begrudgingly, I need to give Tulo some credit. After a smokin' hot April, he's had a pretty average May and June. But what does Tulo do best? He does work in the second half. If you'd like proof of this, I'd like to direct you towards his 15 HR/40 RBI performance in the second half of last year....IN THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER. On one hand, he's been good, but not great. I think it's well understood he deserves the respect to start because he will turn it in the second half.

Third Base
It will be: Placido Polanco
I look at Polanco like I look at a good dog: he's nice, he does the same thing everyday, he doesn't go wild and he never pees on the carpet. In all seriousness, the Philly Phaithful will propel Polanco to the start in an otherwise weak position. He's reliable, he hits for average, he can score runs and he's great defensively. I'm pretty tired of talking about him, because the only reason he'll be an All-Star is because everybody else at the position is bad or hurt. Speaking of which, I really wonder what it's like to be THAT guy at an All-Star game. Will all the other All-Stars look at Polanco and think, "The only reason he's here is because David Wright is hurt."

It should be: Ryan Roberts
I think I've pretty well hammered home the point that this position is weak, but Roberts has actually been pretty impressive. He's been one of several pleasant surprises for the Diamondbacks. His 10 dingers and 12 steals are both pretty solid. As strange as this may be to say, I think if Wright was healthy Roberts would get more recognition because the media loooooooves to compare players, it gives better drama.

It will be: Matt Kemp, Braun and Justin Upton
Just like Granderson and Ellsbury don't need much discussion, Kemp and Braun don't either. I can't tell you how much I want Kemp to go 40/40. I think the Dodgers organization really needs it. And Braun is just mashing. The 'Hebrew Hammer' has been workin' it hard this season. Upton is the only contentious pick here, but when reflecting upon where the game is this season, I think it's pretty clear he will get the nod. Upton has been an RBI machine of late and has great speed and power. To think how young he is makes me extremely excited to see what he is capable of doing.

It could be: Kemp, Braun and about 10 other people
In all seriousness, I think there about 10 names who would not surprise me at all to make it with Kemp and Braun. Make no mistake. These two are a cut above the rest, but not by too much. Would any of you cry foul if (in no particular order) Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jayson Werth, Carlos Beltran, Chris Young, Drew Stubbs, Carlos Gonzalez or Lance Berkman made it? It's pretty clear-cut that there are going to be some bigtime snubs at this All-Star game, and the majority of them will be NL outfielders.

Starting Pitcher
It will be: Roy Halladay
He's the best pitcher in baseball. Hearing other hitters talk about how good Halladay really is makes you appreciate him that much more. When they say the guy can throw 5 pitches for strikes almost every which way, it's hard to hate on him. I think even Mets fans respect Halladay, and that's saying something. He's doing the same thing every year. He's a Cy Young calibur pitcher. Makes you wonder what an entire career in the NL would have been like for him.

It could be: either of his two teammates
It's amazing to look at the amount of quality starting pitching in the NL, but Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are just a cut above everybody else. Lee had an obnoxious June and Hamels has been absolutely amazing. Pardon this tangent, but Hamels amazes the hell out of me. He has two pitches that he can throw for strikes, his fastball and his changeup, and he has some trouble locating his curveball. But Hamels is a good reminder that if you locate those two pitches, then you don't need that secondary pitch with alternative movement. This is another spot where 10 other guys could make a case, but these two are more dominant and just better.

Tweet me @TheKnurve with any comments, questions or general feedback on my articles.
-David Kaplan

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