Warning! My All-Star teams are a mish-mosh of conflicting agendas, just like the actual selections will be.
I like fresh faces as well as big names. I like players with game-changing skills. And – forgive me, Internet police, for I am about to sin – I also like players with compelling narratives.
Let others play paint-by-numbers and choose their All-Stars by Wins Above Replacement. I’m influenced by WAR, too. I’m just not a slave to it here, even though the outcome determines home-field advantage for the World Series.
It’s still an All-Star Game, OK? It’s not a presidential election or something truly important, like a Most Valuable Player award.
As always, to make the selection process as realistic as possible, I am picking 34 All-Stars for each team and, yes, following the rule that each club must be represented.
The era of diminished offense makes the pitching choices even more difficult; there will be notable omissions even in my notable omissions. Seems everyone who can pick up a ball has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10-to-1, while every hitter is batting about .205.
In any case, don’t worry about your favorite player getting snubbed. Between injuries and ineligible pitchers, about 200 players eventually will be named All-Stars. The game has become sort of like Little League, where everyone gets a trophy.
The teams will be announced Sunday. The game will air on FOX a week from Tuesday at Target Field. Direct all complaints to the usual place on Twitter: @Ken_Rosenthal. If you prefer Facebook, you can find me at kenrosenthalsports.
Here we go. Starters denoted with asterisks.
*Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Seattle’s Felix Hernandez should get the start for the American League.
Dellin Betances, Yankees
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays
Yu Darvish, Rangers
Sean Doolittle, Athletics
Greg Holland, Royals
Scott Kazmir, Athletics
Corey Kluber, Indians
Jon Lester, Red Sox
Jake McGee, Rays
David Price, Rays
Garrett Richards, Angels
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
Notable omissions: Wade Davis, Royals; Sonny Gray, Athletics; Dallas Keuchel, Astros; Glen Perkins, Twins; David Robertson, Yankees; Chris Sale, White Sox; Rick Porcello, Tigers; Anibal Sanchez, Tigers; Max Scherzer, Tigers; Koji Uehara, Red Sox.
All of the above have legitimate cases; Robertson leads AL relievers with 15.61 strikeouts per nine innings, and Davis is fourth with 14.24, but I couldn’t fit either in my bullpen.
Tanaka will be selected but likely won’t be eligible because he is scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the game. I would replace him with Sale, who missed a month with a flexor muscle strain, but is walking filth.
*Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Jose Abreu, White Sox
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
*Nelson Cruz, Orioles
Victor Martinez, Tigers
*Jose Altuve, Astros
Robinson Cano, Mariners
Brian Dozier, Twins
*Derek Jeter, Yankees
Erick Aybar, Angels
*Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Kyle Seager, Mariners
Notable omissions: Josh Donaldson, Athletics; Alcides Escobar, Royals; Ian Kinsler, Tigers; Brandon Moss, Athletics; David Ortiz, Red Sox; Alexei Ramirez, White Sox.
Altuve leads the majors with 118 hits and the American League with 37 stolen bases – and at 5-foot-5, he’s only a half-inch taller than me. Not that I’m biased, but I’ve already named him my All-Star MVP.
Second base actually is quite crowded. Dozier’s offensive numbers aren’t as good as Kinsler’s, but I’m throwing Twins fans a bone. The good people of Minnesota can also thank me for excluding Big Papi, who got released by the Twins in 2002 and has tortured them ever since.
It’s no great snub; Ortiz isn’t as deserving as Martinez and Cruz. I also had an ulterior motive for excluding Papi – I want to see him go all Kanye if he doesn’t make the team.
Finally, a message to the anti-Jeter crowd: Who would you prefer, Ramirez? Escobar? Pedro Florimon? Stephen Drew?
The celebration of great careers is part of what the ASG is about.
It’s tough to go wrong with the Angels’ Mike Trout in the American League outfield.
*Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
*Mike Trout, Angels
*Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Michael Brantley, Indians
Coco Crisp, Athletics
Alex Gordon, Royals
Notable omissions: Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays; Adam Jones, Orioles; George Springer, Astros.
Man, I’d love to get Springer on there, or at least see him in the Home Run Derby; he has hit 16 homers, or two more than Miguel Cabrera in 58 fewer at-bats. He also is eighth in the AL in OPS as an outfielder.
Jones is worthy, but I prefer Crisp, a switch hitter who can steal a base – and one of the most valuable A’s.
*Derek Norris, Athletics
Salvador Perez, Royals
Kurt Suzuki, Twins
Notable omissions: Chris Iannetta, Angels; Matt Wieters, Orioles.
Wieters, who leads in the fan balloting, has appeared in only 26 games. Norris doesn’t play every day, but he’s the AL leader in OPS as a catcher by a wide margin. Iannetta, another part-timer, is second in OPS, but I’ll take Suzuki, who is having a breakthrough season at 30 and would give the game a second Twin.
St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright is the top option for NL starting pitcher.
*Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins
Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Aroldis Chapman, Reds
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Craig Kimbrel, Braves
Jonathon Niese, Mets
Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers
Alfredo Simon, Reds
Julio Teheran, Braves
Rafael Soriano, Nationals
Huston Street, Padres
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
Notable omissions: Josh Beckett, Dodgers; Jonathan Broxton, Reds; Steve Cishek, Marlins; Zack Greinke, Dodgers; Jason Hammel, Cubs; Tim Hudson, Giants; Ian Kennedy, Padres; Jean Machi, Giants; Pat Neshek, Cardinals; Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies; Jeff Samardzija, Cubs; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; Tony Watson, Pirates.
I’m going with a 14-man staff, and it still isn’t enough. Consider the rotation I could form just from the omissions; Grienke, Hammel, Hudson, Samardzija and Strasburg. I also wish I could find spots for some of the other relievers, but the statistics for my selections are just ridiculous.
Simon makes five Reds, which is perhaps excessive for a team that is just two games over .500. Still, the guy is ninth in the NL in ERA after opening the season in the rotation only due to injuries. Like Alvarez – and unlike some of the bigger names – he also was terrific in June.
Wainwright over Cueto to start was extremely close. Hudson would be the first pitcher I added in case of injury.
Gattis would have made my team if he had not gone on the DL with a bulging thoracic disc. Mesoraco’s candidacy also was compromised by injuries; his OPS of 1.026 would be second in the league to Tulowitzki if he qualified.