ST. LOUIS – With no fewer than 10 Cardinals ranked among the National League’s top five in homers, runs, wins, ERA and other notable stats, the STL should be well represented at the All-Star Game July 16.
All but one of the Cardinals’ candidates would have to make the team to break the franchise record of eight All-Stars, set by the 1943 club that went 105-49 before losing to the Yankees in the World Series.
These Cardinals could be hard pressed to match last year’s total of six All-Stars. They are virtually guaranteed of having three and should have no fewer than five. Landing any more than that, though, will be difficult, as you can see from sizing up their chances.
Carlos Beltran. He’s No. 1 among NL outfielders in the fans’ voting, partly because he’s hitting .306 and tied for third with 14 homers. Beltran also benefits in the voting from having been a popular player at each of his stops, which include Houston, New York and San Francisco in the NL.
Yadier Molina. As the game’s best defensive player and league’s leading hitter (.355), Molina absolutely should start behind the plate, but at least it’s taking an MVP and reigning World Series champ to beat him out in the fans’ voting. Still, I’m not sure Buster Posey leads the fans’ voting because of his 2012 or because Bay Area fans are the best in the land at stuffing the electronic ballot box.
Adam Wainwright. Clayton Kershaw leads the NL in ERA, while young Matt Harvey has been dominant for the All-Star hosting Mets. But being the ace on the team with the best record in the majors should count for something. So should a majors-most 10 wins, 2.14 ERA and a ridiculous 97-strikeout-to-9-walk ratio. Unless Wainwright bombs in his next two or three times out, he deserves to be the NL starter.
Edward Mujica. If the NL were to take just one closer, it should be the Pirates’ Jason Grilli. But if it takes more than one — last year, it took five — then Mujica should be there. It’s not just his 20 saves in 20 chances, his 2.03 ERA or the fact he’s walked one batter all year. It’s also how clean his saves have been. In 12 of them, Mujica has retired the side in order, a trend surely appreciated by his manager.
Matt Carpenter. He won’t beat out Brandon Phillips in the fans’ voting (he shouldn’t), and his chances in the players’ balloting could be hurt because he’s still relatively unknown and under-appreciated (plus veteran Marco Scutaro is hitting .332). Still, Carpenter should make the team. He’s hitting .316 with a .400 OBP and is fourth in runs scored, and he has played outstanding defense at second base.
COULD BE IN
Shelby Miller. With a 2.08 ERA, 8-4 record and 96 strikeouts, fifth most in the NL, the rookie right-hander has deserving numbers. But so do a lot of other starters and only eight were named to the NL team last year.
Lance Lynn. Even if wins are overrated, having a 9-1 record for the majors’ No. 1 team warrants consideration. Still, Lynn’s best opportunity could be if Wainwright (or Miller) starts on the Sunday before the All-Star Game and therefore can’t pitch. NEED SOME HELP
Allen Craig. He’s a run-producing machine with a team-high 52 RBIs to go with a .309 batting average. But having only six homers will hurt, especially with so many other first basemen enjoying strong seasons. Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt are sure bets, leaving Craig to beat out Freddie Freeman and Adrian Gonzalez. And that’s if the NL goes with more than two first basemen. It sent only two last year.
Matt Holliday. He’s tied for second in runs scored and — I’m estimating — first in balls hit that have exceeded 100 mph off the bat. He’s also popular among his peers, which helps in players balloting. Still, with a .271 average and on pace to drive in fewer than 100 runs, Holliday’s season seems a little short of All-Star worthy.
Trevor Rosenthal. With 49 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings, a 20-outing scoreless streak and a 1.82 ERA, he has been more dominant than could have been expected — reasonably expected, anyway. Setup men, however, typically don’t make All-Star teams, especially in a league with so many dominant closers.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at email@example.com.