The 2015 All-Star Rosters have been announced, and please, enough with the Royals. I get it, the team has the second-largest division lead in baseball and the fan base is excited to finally root for winners. But three of the four Royals who’ve been voted to start in this year’s Midsummer Classic simply aren’t deserving.
Sure, Alex Gordon may be worthy of an All-Star spot, but I wouldn’t make the case to start him. And by my estimation, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez are fourth-best in the AL at their respective positions.
If it were up to me, these would be the ten American League starters in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.
SP: Chris Sale
With apologies to Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray and Chris Archer, all of whom have sub-2.20 ERAs, the best pitcher in the AL plays in Chicago. Sale leads the league in FIP by a huge margin – the second best mark is closer to the seventh best than to Sale’s.
He’s also striking out 12.3 batters per nine, which also leads the league. And of course, we all know about his current streak of double digit strikeout games. All this makes his 2.87 ERA more impressive than those posted by the other three pitchers.
It was tough to decide between Martin and Stephen Vogt, but I gave Martin the nod because of his defensive brilliance.
That’s not to say Martin hasn’t dazzled with the bat, though. He’s already hit more home runs than he did all of last year, although it should be noted that this is largely helped by playing his home games in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
1B: Miguel Cabrera
If Miggy were healthy in time for the game, he’d be my choice to start at first base for the AL. His numbers so far are better than his triple crown-winning season in 2012, posting a .350/.456/.578 slash line – all three of those figures lead the AL.
I was tempted to choose Albert Pujols, who’s pacing the league with 25 home runs in a renaissance season, but Cabrera continues to bear the mantle of the best right-handed hitter in the game, a title he took from Pujols himself.
2B: Jason Kipnis
After an off year in 2014, Kipnis is proving his breakout 2013 wasn’t a fluke. He’s already hit more doubles than he hit last year, and has matched his 2014 home run total.
It’s clear that Jose Altuve got the votes based on last year’s performance. Kipnis is out-slashing him .341/.419/.506 to .301/.344/.418 and is roughly Altuve’s equal in the field.
SS: Jose Iglesias
The dude’s hitting .323 and might be the best fielding shortstop in the league. Shortstop is pretty thin on hitting talent in the AL, but of those who’ve played the whole season, Iglesias has the highest wRC+ at 113.
He doesn’t do much other than hit singles, but he’s certainly more deserving of a starting bid than Escobar, whose OBP is lower than Iglesias’ AVG.
3B: Josh Donaldson
I really wish I could put Manny Machado in the starting lineup, but as good as his year has been, Donaldson’s has been even better.
Donaldson leads the league in total bases and runs scored, and has flashed some serious leather at third base. Easily the best offseason pickup of 2015.
OF: Mike Trout
At this point in his career, we should just assume Trout will make the All-Star Game every year. So far Kipnis is actually outpacing him in WAR (4.8 to 4.5), but it’s clear that Trout is still the best player in baseball.
OF: Lorenzo Cain
One of the best fielding outfielders in the game, Cain has really put it together at the plate this year. He’s backed up last year’s .301 average with a .305 mark this year, and his 6 home runs have already surpassed last year’s total.
Cain is also second among AL outfielders in stolen bases with 16, and has been caught only 3 times.
OF: J.D. Martinez
Coming off a breakout year in 2014, it was up to Martinez this season to prove he’s no flash in the pan. So far, he’s delivering.
There was no way he could duplicate his absurd .389 BABIP from last year, but Martinez has already matched his home run output. It was tough to select him over Jose Bautista, but I gave Martinez the nod because of his superior defense.
DH: Alex Rodriguez
Yeah, Nelson Cruz has better numbers. But they’re not THAT much better than A-Rod’s, plus, as much as I dislike the man, his comeback has been very impressive.
I’m supposed to be a stats guy, but when a player spends a year and a half away from baseball and comes back at age 39 to put up the numbers A-Rod has, it covers the slim gap between his and Cruz’s numbers. And even if his comeback was aided by PEDs, Cruz was guilty as well.
I won’t do an article on the National League starting lineup because the fans got it pretty right, although I’d switch Jhonny Peralta with Brandon Crawford and Matt Holliday with Joc Pederson. Guess I wouldn’t be surprised if all you got from this article is that I hate the state of Missouri, but I promise, it’s all about the stats.