Who should really start the 2015 MLB All-Star Game?

Troy Tulowitzki is one of many deserving star players who will find themselves on the bench for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

By Joe Boland and Matt Whitener

Sunday night, the 2015 MLB All-Star starting rosters, as voted on by the fans, were released, followed by the full rosters Monday. Yesterday, TSFJ’s resident baseball expert Matt Whitener shared the “corrected” All-Star rosters. And while Mr. Whitener got it mostly right … there are still a few issues with his starting lineup. So as we’ve done the past couple years, TSFJ gets the debate going, as The Rev and Matt debate who really should start the 2015 MLB All-Star game.

NL Starters

Catcher: Buster Posey, Giants

As Matt stated, easy call here. Posey leads all MLB catchers in hits, home runs, RBI, average and WAR. He also leads NL catchers in runs, OBP, slugging and OPS. He’s the standard bearer at the position, period.

First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

Another shoe-in, Arizona’s first baseman is second only to Bryce Harper in all of baseball in WAR, and he leads all first-baggers in the game in runs, hits, RBI, walks, steals, OBP, slugging and OPS, and he leads NL first basemen in home runs and average, trailing only Albert Pujols in homers and Miguel Cabrera in average. Don’t look now, but Goldschmidt just may be moving Cabrera off the first base mountaintop.

Second Base: Dee Gordon, Marlins

There’s only right answer here, and that’s Gordon. He’s batting .339, leads the Majors in hits and is second in steals. Who knew Flash’s kid would be so good?

Third Base: Todd Frazier, Reds

Frazier leads all NL three-baggers in WAR, runs, hits, doubles, homers and OPS. Nolan Arenado has a case, but not much of one.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Jhonny Peralta is a fine player, but not only does he spell his first name in the most inexplicably strange way — he also isn’t even in the top two or three shortstops in the National League. Brandon Crawford has had a surprisingly better season than Jhonny out in San Fran, and given Andrelton Simmons’ slick glove, I’d take Atlanta’s shortstop over him any day. After all, shortstop is all about defense first. But let’s be honest, there is no shortstop in the game better than Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s been his stellar self — and healthy for once — this year. He leads all NL shortstops in runs, doubles (tied with Peralta), average, OBP, slugging and OPS. He’s the guy, period.

Cardinals-Jhonny-Peralta

Whitener Weighs In: I will not debate the fact that Tulowitzki is the superior player, because really on a skills-comparison level, there is nobody further away from the pack at his position in the game. But Peralta has been superb all-year, not just over the past few months to drive up his numbers. Peralta is playing a premier baseball (on both sides of the ball), for the game's premier team thus far at the premium position. He is not relegated to a stats-only compiling effort, such as Tulowitzki has been. For all intensive purposes, Tulowitzki was the last addition to my NL roster, with Crawford registering above him in impact for me as well. For those reasons, Tulo's not the answer, and Peralta is out-impacting Crawford as well, so Jhonny with the “h” gets my vote.

Outfield: Bryce Harper, NationalsMike Stanton, Marlins, replaced by A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks; Ryan Braun

Bryce Harper is the first-half MVP and has had the best season of any everyday player in baseball. No need to go over the stats — he’s having more of a Trout season than Mike Trout.

And with Stanton out, the nod goes to A.J. Pollock for me … and I see Matt went the same way. Out in obscurity in Arizona, Pollock leads all MLB outfielders in hits, and his .303 average, 18 steals, and 54 runs deserve to give Pollock some shine.

As for my pick of Ryan Braun over Andrew McCutchen, believe me, it pained me to do it. I’m a huge McCutchen fan, but McCutchen’s slow start combined with Braun’s continued run-producing consistency gave Braun the edge. He has more runs, home runs, RBI, and steals than Pittsburgh’s finest too, which doesn’t hurt.

Whitener Weighs In: Braun certainly deserves to be in Cincinnati without a doubt, and his exclusion is one of the most laughable of all considering the National League injuries at the spot. But while I think he should be on the roster somewhere, it definitely isn't as a starter ahead of McCutchen. Cutch is one of the game's brightest and most vital stars. His effort this year has defined value, driving the Pirates back into the competitive picture. In statistical comparison, he is carrying a nearly 30 point higher batting average, has more overall hits and doubles, and his on-base and slugging percentages put Braun's to shame. All of this before we factor his incomparable defense next to Braun's as well (while Braun plays the least demanding defensive position in the game). McCutchen is one of the game's top 5 players and a starting nod is where he deserves to be, annually.

Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer, Nationals

He’s the clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it starter and rightfully so. So instead of discussing his bona fides, lets’ talk about how completely absurd it is that Clayton Kershaw — who has the most strikeouts in baseball, 1.04 WHIP and 3.08 ERA — didn’t make it? Sure, he’s given up more runs in the first half than we’re accustomed to … but come on. This is crazy.

AL Starters

Catcher: Stephen Vogt, Athletics It has not been a banner year for AL catchers, but it has been one for Vogt. He’s had a breakout for the A’s, and only Posey has been a better backstop in the entire game.

First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, replaced by Albert Pujols, Angels

Miggy is the best there is (in the AL at least), leading the Majors in average, and no AL first baseman can touch him. But with Detroit’s slugger out, we take a trip down memory lane with a rejuvenated Albert Pujols. Pujols has more homers than any first baseman in the game, and he leads AL first basemen in runs as well.

Second Base: Brian Dozier, Twins

Jason Kipnis has been fabulous, and I can’t argue with any of Matt’s points. But I went with Dozier because he leads all second basemen in runs, homers, RBI and slugging. He’s not as good of an all-around as Kipnis, but his power numbers push him over the edge for the surprising Twins … who just so happen to be 5.5 games ahead of Kipnis’s Indians in the AL Central standings.

Whitener Weighs In: Dozier is playing great baseball and is likely the biggest omission from either team. But with that said, he's not having a year on the level of Kipnis, who in May joined none other than Ty Cobband Al Simmons as the only players to hit for a .400 average with 50 hits and 30 runs scored in a single month. And what's more is that he has stayed at a premium level still, as he hit .358 in June and checks in a .336 on the year and a .414 on-base %. That's good for a nearly 80 point difference from Dozier's .258 average and .331 OBP. Sure Dozier should be there, but he shouldn't be in the game before Kipnis is.

Third Base: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays

Donaldson leads all AL and most third baseman period in damn near every offensive category imaginable, and his work keeping the Toronto Blue Jays in the hunt has him as a legit MVP candidate.

Shortstop:  Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox

This is not a great year for AL shortstops, so if Jhonny Peralta was still in the AL, I’d say he deserves to start. Since he isn’t, he doesn’t, so Bogaerts takes the top spot among the underwhelming AL shortstops.

Outfield: J.D. Martinez, Tigers; Mike Trout, Angels; Lorenzo Cain, Royals

J.D. Martinez is having a breakout season and showcasing why he was such a heralded prospect when he was in the Houston system. He’s in the top 10 in WAR in all of baseball, and his 24 homers and 58 RBI pace all AL outfielders. He deserves the starting nod.

What more can anyone say about Trout? Even with a slightly less impressive start to 2015, he’s still easily the game’s best player, and only Bryce Harper is having a better overall year for any outfielder in baseball. He leads all outfielders in runs and paces AL outfielders in OBP, slugging and OPS.

As for the final spot, with all due respect to Jose Bautista’s power numbers, his subpar average drops him down in my book. Instead, last year’s playoff breakout star, Lorenzo Cain, deserves the nod. Not only is he a far, far, FAR superior outfielder defensively than Bautista, but he also leads all AL outfielders in average. Throw in his top 10 standing in his league in the non-power stats and Cain deserves the starting spot the fans gave him.

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 05: Lorenzo  Cain #6 of the Kansas City Royals reacts after making two diving catches against the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth inning during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Whitener Weighs In: I love Lorenzo Cain's game, LOVE it. But he was my final addition to the AL roster and I racked my brain more over if he should beat out Adam Jones for a spot on the team overall, not Bautista for the starting nod. Joey Bats is one of the game's most exciting and proven elements. His average may not be elite this year, but his on-base, slugging and (obviously) on-base + slugging figures are far superior than Cain's. Add in the easily separable power and run producing figures and Bautista is the easy pick here.

Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz, Mariners

Matt gave you all the necessary reasons. I’ll just add anyone but Big Papi because I’m getting sick of that guy.

Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, Rays

Chris Sale has been remarkable. Really remarkable. He’s the best player on the White Sox, and he’s a more than deserving all-star. BUT — Tampa’s Chris Archer has a better ERA, more wins (I know, I know), has thrown more innings, surrendered less hits, less runs and has a better opponents’ average against. And while he trails Sale in both strikeouts and WHIP, it’s a minuscule difference — Archer trails Sale by only six K’s and his 0.95 WHIP is just behind Sale’s 0.94. Archer it is.

Whitener Weighs In: Sale has been the AL's answer to Scherzer over the past month, and has done so with a much, much inferior gathering of talent around him. He has taken the art of taking the game into his own hands to historic levels, and has meant much more in squeaking out wins for the lowly White Sox. All the while he has pitched a comparable amount of innings, won just two less games and lost one fewer. It is very close, but I give it to one of the game's great attractions, Sale.

 

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