The Statistically Ideal 2013 All-Star Team: National League
The MLB All-Star Game is a little weird. We assign importance to it in a couple ways: All-Star Game appearances can factor into a player’s Hall of Fame resume, they can influence future contracts or trigger bonuses, and for some reason, the outcome of the game determines home field advantage in the World Series. Yet despite all this, fans get to determine the starters and the 34th player, which can result in stuffed ballot boxes in favor of players who might not deserve to be at the game at all.
With that in mind, these All-Star picks are a little different. I didn’t take into account fan voting or marketability. Thus, some guys who will surely make the actual game aren’t on my roster. Bryce Harper, Ryan Braun and Justin Upton, for instance. Players earn a spot on this roster based on what they’ve done this year, not career performance.
I did stick with the every-team-must-be-represented rule, and in doing so breathed a sigh of relief that the Astros no longer play in the N.L. Here’s a quick look at who should make the All-Star team in a week. (Starters in bold.)
First things first, Troy Tulowitzki would clearly be on this list if he was healthy, Unfortunately he’ll still be out with a broken rib when the All-Star Game rolls around, so there’s no point in including him on this roster.
It’s a weak year for infielders in the N.L. Pedro Alvarez snuck on as my backup third baseman over the slick fielding Chase Headley and Todd Frazier thanks solely to his 19 home runs, second in the N.L. I had to reward Everth Cabrera for his breakout .305/.382/.418, 31 SB year, so I snuck three shortstops in.
Paul Goldschmidt not only makes his first All-Star team, but also gets the starting nod over presumptive real-life starter Joey Votto thanks to an edge in homers, slugging percentage and a marginal fielding advantage. I have Buster Posey starting at DH and Yadier Molina at catcher, which is the likely real-life outcome if Molina holds onto his slim lead in fan voting. Evan Gattis makes the team as a catcher/pinch hitter extraordinaire/folk hero.
Notable omissions: Tulowitzki (injury), Adrian Gonzalez, Freddie Freeman, Marco Scutaro, Russell Martin, Jedd Gyorko, Frazier, Headley. See? Not exactly a banner year for N.L. infielders.
The 2013 N.L. outfield class is significantly better than its infield counterpart. This group is so deep that Bryce Harper (awesome, but limited PAs due to an injury), Ryan Braun (awesome, but just not quite good enough) and Jay Bruce (18 homers, third in the league) don’t make the squad.
Regarding the starters, Gonzalez is a no-brainer and a front-runner for MVP, Gomez is having a career year and combines speed, power and defense, and Beltran gets the nod over McCutchen thanks to better offensive numbers and the fact that an all-Carlos outfield would be awesome.
Fowler, Choo and Brown all make their first All-Star teams. Brown has exploded for 19 homers, second in the league, which overshadows his distasteful inability to draw a walk. Choo is an on-base machine whose .424 OBP is second only to his Reds teammate Votto. Fowler is having his second-straight sneakily excellent season: he has a higher average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and more home runs than the more ballyhooed McCutchen.
Notable omissions: Harper, Braun, Bruce, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Gerardo Parra, Matt Holliday, Michael Cuddyer.
The strength of the N.L. team lies in its pitching. This staff actually runs one too deep, but I’m guessing Strasburg may be told not to pitch in the game given his recent back injury and the Nationals' history of care with him. Even if he is ready to go, it’s likely at least one of the starters will throw the Sunday before the game and therefore be ineligible to pitch. Aroldis Chapman was my last man out in case multiple starters can’t go.
Wainwright gets the ball as my starter. Great cases could be made for Harvey, Kershaw, or Lee, but Wainwright has thrown the most innings, barely walks anyone, and holds a comparable strikeout rate. That’s good enough for me.
There are a lot of new faces on this staff. This is the first All-Star appearance for everyone other than Kershaw, Kimbrel, Lee, Strasburg and Wainwright. Miller is having an insane rookie year, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out more than a batter an inning. Corbin has been dominant in his sophomore year, and his 2.19 ERA trails only Harvey and Kershaw, although his 3.21 FIP implies a measure of luck.
Zimmermann doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, but he doesn’t walk many either, and he probably should’ve made the team last year. I’ve already made the case for Minor as an All-Star. Fernandez and Samardzija are each the sole representative for their teams, although each is deserving of his spot. If the game is tight in late innings, I’m putting fireballers Rosenthal and Kimbrel on the mound. Jason Grilli is this year’s token Improbable Breakout Year For An Old Closer guy. (Fernando Rodney looks back wistfully at his 2012 IBYOC award.)
Notable omissions: Chapman, Kris Medlen, Jorge de la Rosa, Lance Lynn, Travis Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, Eric Stults, Mike Leake, A.J. Burnett, Gio Gonzalez. Most of the guys on this list didn’t make the cut due to lower strikeout rates or fewer innings pitched. It’s a deep class this year.
Alex Hampl covers baseball and the Atlanta Braves weekly for numberFire. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hampl9.