The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is almost here. With only 17 days to the All-Star Game, I have decided to vote for the National and American Leagues' squads. Without further ado, here are my 2014 MLB All-Star Game rosters and why I have selected them.
First Base -- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt is the best first baseman in the National League. He leads National League first baseman with an .918 OPS, helped by his fourth-highest on-base percentage and the league-lead slugging percentage. Goldschmidt, known as "Goldy," has the highest WAR of any National League first baseman with a 3.0 mark and has posted a 149 wRC+, good for fourth. Not to mention, he is a class act off the field, as he spent a good ten minutes talking baseball with me when I ran into him in New York last year.
Second Base -- Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley is enduring one of his best seasons in a long time, and deserves an All-Star appearance to cap it off. His batting average, which was over .300 on June 21, has dipped to .295, but Utley's stats are too good to not net him his sixth All-Star selection. Utley leads all National League second baseman with a 2.6 WAR, has hit a third-highest six home runs, posted the third-highest wRC+, and has the second lowest strikeout percentage. The Phillies second baseman is playing as well as anybody.
Shortstop -- Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
This one is a no-brainer. Tulowitzki has been the first-half's National League MVP, if there was such an award. Forget where he stands against the National League shortstops, Tulowitzki has the highest batting average in the major leagues. His OPS is just as good, as his 1.060 mark leads everyone. Even with the Coors Field effect, Tulowitzki's OPS+ (which is known to take the ballpark effects out of a player) ranks behind only Mike Trout, posting a 176 mark. If Tulowitzki is not voted in as shortstop in the National League, I have no idea why.
Third Base -- Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Todd Frazier is the best third baseman in the National League. His .284 (5th among NL third baseman)/.350 (4th)/.508 (1st) slash line might not be the best of National League third baseman, but Frazier has done enough to make him worthy of an All-Star nod. How can the leader in National League OPS of third baseman not crack the top five in the voting (as of June 23)? Frazier's strikeout rate is extremely high, but he still has provided the most WAR of any third baseman in the NL and has the highest wRC+. Vote Todd Frazier to the All-Star Game.
Catcher -- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
I have really enjoyed watching Lucroy tear up any pitching this season. This season, Lucroy has been the best catcher in the National League, hands down. He has a 3.7 WAR (1st among NL catchers) and a 156 wRC+ (1st). His defense is highly underrated. While he might not be Yadier Molina behind the plate, Lucroy has been absolutely invaluable to Brewers' pitching. His .336 batting average alone should be enough to earn him All-Star status, but for good measure he also leads all NL catchers in on-base percentage, and is second to only Evan Gattis in slugging percentage.
Outfield -- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the best in the National League. There is no doubt in my mind. Besides his fantastic power numbers (21 home runs, .596 slugging percentage; both first among National League outfielders), Stanton is a very underrated all around hitter. His .316 batting average is also tops among NL outfielders, and his on-base percentage is only behind Andrew McCutchen. He actually plays average defense and his overall WAR ranks first in the National League. As of the last update, Stanton ranked fourth among outfielders. That is unacceptable.
Outfield -- Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers
Carlos Gomez is another class act off the field. While he has started some scuffles on the field, I truly believe that is because he is passionate about his job and what he does. Gomez reads my website, and has followed me on Twitter for a long time. Not to mention, he is on my fantasy team. Before bias takes the best of me, look at Gomez's numbers. They are definitely All-Star caliber. He has a .310/.375/.525 triple-slash line, while posting the second-highest WAR, behind only Giancarlo Stanton, among National League outfielders. Gomez is a very good defender and is the cornerstone in the Milwaukee Brewers offense. He is as deserving as anyone for an All-Star appearance.
Outfield -- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen continues to provide MVP-type numbers in Pittsburgh. His .943 OPS is second among NL outfielders, along with his 167 wRC+. His WAR is good for third, but his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating; measures how many runs a player is worth on defense) on defense ranks second to last. That could be what really hurts McCutchen's stock and might make the fans choose Yasiel Puig, but I am still a fan of what McCutchen brings to the table every day, and what he has brought to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a whole. Nearly single-handedly, he has turned them into a winning organization, which I absolutely applaud.
First Base -- Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
How hard is it to come from a foreign country to the United States and then thrown into a game where as many as 40,000 fans show up to watch you play? That has been the story of Jose Abreu, who has taken the majors by storm. Abreu, 27, was given $68 million to come to the United States and play for the Chicago White Sox and already he has paid dividends. Abreu, even after sitting on the DL for some time, leads the American League (not just first baseman) with 25 home runs and is fourth with a .959 OPS (second among AL first baseman). He strikes out a lot, but as long as he keeps his power numbers high and continues to get on base, there is nobody more deserving than Abreu.
Second Base -- Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Jose Altuve has the most hits in the major leagues, with 113. He is behind only Troy Tulowitzki in batting average, but leads all American Leaguers with a .343 mark. The 5'6" Altuve does not provide top-notch power numbers, as he has only homered twice, but, according to Moneyball, what is most important of any major leaguer? To get on base. With a .383 on-base percentage, Altuve does exactly that. He also leads the American League in stolen bases with 34 to cap it off. Since being signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, Altuve has, and will be, the leader on the Astros.
Shortstop -- Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Just because Derek Jeter is retiring this season does not automatically make him an All-Star. He is batting just .272/.329/.330 this season. Alexei Ramirez, without Jeter in the running, would be the starting shortstop for the American League team, which is why I am voting for him. He has a .295 (1st among AL shortstops)/.327 (4th)/.422 (1st) slash line with eight home runs and 39 RBI. While Jeter has barely stretched 0.5 in the WAR department (he has a 0.6), Ramirez is second in the pack with a 2.0 WAR. Of deserving shortstops for the All-Star Game, Ramirez is number one.
Third Base -- Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
I am so happy that Donaldson has a sizable lead for the All-Star Game. As I wrote not too long ago, Donaldson is the most underrated player in baseball, let alone American League third baseman. He has a good lead in nearly every metric of American League third baseman, including a 3.6 WAR. His wRC+ ranks third at 125. His defense, however, may be his most underrated of all his attributes. His UZR is 11.8, which ranks first over Manny Machado by 7.6 points! That is just, well, fantastic. Donaldson is the best third baseman in the American League, if not in the major leagues.
Catcher -- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
If Matt Wieters was not hurt, he would be my selection here. But he is, and I believe that Salvador Perez is the best all-around catcher in the American League. His combination of offense and defense is excellent, all while helping to lead the Royals into second place in the American League Central. He has posted a .785 OPS, which ranks third among AL catchers. His 117 wRC+ also ranks third. But it is his defense that truly separates himself. In the overall defense metric, Perez ranks above Yadier Molina for first in the major leagues. That is what sets him apart and what gives him the nod at starting catcher in the American League.
Designated Hitter -- Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
People love the power that Nelson Cruz supplies, but how is Martinez third in the AL designated hitter voting? While Cruz has homered 25 times, Martinez is a close second, with 20 bombs. He also has a .323/.383/.592 triple slash line, which he ranks first in all three categories. Martinez has one of the lowest strikeout percentages in the major leagues, behind only Jose Altuve. He has a 160 wRC+, nine points better than Neslon Cruz's 151. With all these fantastic stats, why is Martinez not leading the voting? Vote for him now and put him as the starting designated hitter.
Outfield -- Mike Trout, Los Angles Angels of Anaheim
Mike Trout is the best outfielder in all of baseball. That's enough said. Regardless, I will continue with the stats. He is atop all outfielders with 18 homers and leads them with a .611 slugging percentage. He is second in both on-base percentage and batting average, but is nearly an entire WAR point ahead of second place Alex Gordon. He also leads all American League outfielders with a 182 wRC+. Trout does not really need a description to show why he is an All-Star, he does that enough on all the highlight reels we see on MLB.com and on ESPN. Trout is a fantastic player and deserves to go to his third consecutive All-Star game.
Outfield -- Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Most people think of Jose Bautista as the guy that homered 54 times back in 2010, but he has completely evolved his game since. He still has power (Bautista has homered 18 times this season thus far.), but Bautista gets on base a lot more than he did, posting an AL-leading .433 on-base percentage. How did he do it? He has brought his strikeout percentage down and his walk percentage up. In 2010, Bautista stuck out in 17% of his plate appearances and walked in just 14.6%. Now, they have practically reversed roles, as he walks in 17.5% of his plate appearances and strikes out in 14.2%. Bautista continues to make adjustments, making himself a better hitter. That is a true All-Star.
Outfield -- Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Cespedes' throw of the year sold me for voting for him. Cespedes' UZR ranks 11th in the American League with a 2.7 mark, but his ARM (runs saved via a throw) ranks second with a 6.3 mark. And that is just his defense. Cespedes is one of the primer power hitters in the American League, showing us what he could do in the Home Run Derby last year. Cespedes has 14 home runs this season, which ranks seventh in the AL among outfielders and has a .502 slugging percentage which ranks sixth. His OPS of .827 is also sixth. Cespedes is one of the best pure power hitters in the American League and deserves his first ever All-Star nod.