The Stats Geek's 2013 MLB All-Star Ballot: NL
After taking a look at the American League yesterday, it's time to look at their National League counterparts. Still reeling from seeing Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano left off our optimized ballots? Then you might want to take a look at where Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, and Bryce Harper are on our NL rosters.
Hint: it's nowhere.
|Position||Player||Team||nERD Score||Overall Batter Rank|
This is the optimal roster accurate as of May 20, 2013. For a full description of nERD, check out our numberFire glossary. It's worthwhile to note that only batting efficiency is taken into account, not fielding efficiency. So for the Andrelton Simmons fielding lovers, you're not finding a friend here.
First Base - This might be the toughest selection on the entire board. Goldschmidt is our number three overall batter. Votto is our number four overall batter. Can't we all just get along? Not really, because the answer on your ballot means you're divided into one of two camps. Do you value Votto's majors-leading .476 on-base percentage? Or would you rather have Goldschmidt's power with his NL-leading .622 slugging percentage? Given that Goldschmidt's OBP is still fourth in the NL while Votto's slugging isn't even in the league's top ten, we'll take the D'Backs slugger.
Second Base - Similar to shortstop on the AL side, there really isn't a good answer for the NL's starting second baseman. With Aaron Hill having spent most of the season injured, I guess... Brandon Phillips might be the most recognizable name? But the statistically correct answer is Carpenter, with his fourth-most runs scored and third-most doubles in the National League. When your next best options are Chase Utley's .339 OBP or Marco Scutaro's one homerun and 11 RBIs, it's not pretty.
Shortstop - For the first time in what seems like an eternity, the NL holds all of the cards at the shortstop position. Gone are the days of Jeter, A-Rod, and Garciaparra dominance; it's Tulo-Time now... except that at No. 19 overall, Tulowitzki comes in second in our shortstop list. Maybe you haven't been paying attention, but Jean Segura leads the NL in batting average, is seventh in OBP, and perhaps most surprising, is fifth in slugging percentage. His .385 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and 24 percent line drive rate is unlikely to last, but for now, it has catapulted him to the top of the SS charts.
Third Base - Five third basemen dot the list of our top 40 most efficient batters this season. There is Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, all guys that are in the American League, of course. And then at No. 10 overall, we have our only truly efficient NL third baseman: Mr. Wright. Although the Mets themselves may have the fourth-worst OBP in the majors at .303, Wright has reached base at a .412 clip this season, third-best in the NL. Couple that with a 3.4 percent homerun rate, and this selection is a piece of cake.
Catcher - Is it possible that the reigning MVP has gotten better? Posey's 13.0 percent strikeout rate is his best since 2010 and down 2.7 percent from last season. His 13.0 percent walk rate is easily his best ever, up from 11.7 percent last season. He holds the ninth-best OBP in the National League despite the unluckiest BABIP of his career at .310. Even his 3.6 percent homerun rate is right in line with career projections. It's scary to think about, but Posey may actually get better as we move further into All-Star voting.
First Choice - The fact that Shin Soo-Choo is on our list should surprise nobody, and really, neither should his second in the NL .455 OBP. His BABIP is right in line with his career average at .357, his strikeout rate is a bit lower than normal at 19.3 percent, and his 16.0 percent walk rate will regress to the mean somewhat, but not too far considering his 11.7 percent career mark. Really, the only thing that has taken Choo from fringe All-Star to MVP candidate is that uptick in homeruns, from 2.3 percent of plate appearances last season to 4.3 percent this season.
Second Choice - Does CarGo have Choo's OBP? No, but then again, almost nobody does. Does CarGo have Justin Upton's power hitting numbers? No, but then again, nobody does. What Carlos Gonzalez gives you is a little taste of each. His .393 OBP (the highest of his career) sits fourth among NL outfielders behind Choo, Ryan Braun, and Norichika Aoki and is bolstered by his high 13.6 percent walk rate. Meanwhile, his 5.2 percent homerun rate sits No. 24 in the majors and No. 4 among NL outfielders behind Upton, Harper, and Carlos Beltran.
Third Choice - Upton really doesn't need that much explaining; he's the homerun king at currently 7.4 percent of plate appearances, after all. But what puts him over competitors such as Harper or Braun may just be his ability to get on base in other ways. Upton has walked on 15.7 percent of his plate appearances this season, perhaps surprising given his also high 25.4 percent strikeout rate. That walk rate places Upton eighth among qualified MLB hitters, and he's only behind Votto, Choo, and Carlos Pena in the National League.