Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers flush with All-Stars
Based on that final balloting update, it appears the American
League starting lineup for the All-Star game will be loaded with
Yankees and Red Sox.
Here we go again.
Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez. All
probably headed to Phoenix, with several other teammates in
That might rankle fans around the country, but take a look at
the numbers. With the exception of New York catcher Russell Martin
and aging shortstop Derek Jeter, most of the leading vote-getters
do indeed deserve those spots.
Who else has earned a trip to the July 12 showcase? Tough
choices, as usual.
Prince Fielder or Joey Votto at first base for the National
League? Carlos Quentin or Jacoby Ellsbury in the AL outfield? And
how many aces can the Phillies put on the pitching staff?
”It can be a little daunting, to be honest,” NL manager Bruce
Bochy of the San Francisco Giants said. ”Sure, it’s an honor and
you’re excited about it, but at the same time you know that
somebody’s going to get snubbed, supposedly. There’s nothing you
can do about it. It’s not perfect.”
One superstar who won’t be playing is St. Louis slugger Albert
Pujols, sidelined by a broken wrist. He highlights a striking list
of face-of-the-franchise types who figure to miss this All-Star
game because of injuries, slumps – or both.
Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Chase
Utley, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Zimmerman, Carl Crawford, Buster Posey,
Justin Morneau, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana.
In their absence, look for talented first-timers such as
Asdrubal Cabrera, Rickie Weeks and Matt Kemp.
Following last year’s rule changes, this will be the first time
the designated hitter is used in an NL park. There are 34 slots on
each roster, with 13 going to pitchers. And every team must be
represented, which makes for difficult decisions.
”I’ll be glad when the process is over,” said Texas’ Ron
Washington, who will manage the AL squad. ”I did my homework, I’ll
consult with my coaching staff and I’ll probably reach out to a few
guys, a few managers that’s done this before. But I only get so
many to choose, and all I have to do is look at the roster that’s
been put out there and we’re going to choose according to our need,
to make sure we’re covered.”
The league that wins gets home-field advantage in the World
Series again, and the NL finally wrested it away last year with its
first victory in 13 games since 1996.
So without regard to fan or player balloting, here are our picks
for the 82nd All-Star game. Rosters will be announced Sunday.
Starting with the AL:
First Base – Gonzalez has been an RBI machine in his first
season with Boston. Thanks to a smooth glove, he edges Detroit
bopper Miguel Cabrera for the start. Chicago’s Paul Konerko and New
York’s Mark Teixeira also make the team.
Second Base – Cano is the clear choice even though he hasn’t
played as well as last year, when he finished third in AL MVP
voting for the Yankees. The backup job goes to underrated Ben
Zobrist of Tampa Bay.
Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera has provided power at the plate and
spectacular defense in a breakout season for the surprising
Indians. That impressive combination earns him the starting nod
over Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta, who also warrants his first
selection. Left off here is the 37-year-old Jeter, who had a
comfortable lead at last count in fan voting and appears headed to
his 12th All-Star game despite that strained calf and a season-long
slump. Six hits shy of 3,000, he was set to come off the disabled
list early next week, so perhaps he’ll be healthy enough to play in
the Midsummer Classic. Who knows? It could be his last All-Star
Third Base – Rodriguez also held a sizable lead in fan
balloting, but his numbers at the plate put him neck-and-neck with
Red Sox rival Kevin Youkilis. Give the nod to A-Rod, with Youkilis
securing a reserve role.
Catcher – Another young player enjoying a breakthrough season is
Tigers catcher Alex Avila. He gets the surprise start and his
backup is, well … his backup. Avila’s emergence has allowed
Detroit to use Victor Martinez mostly as a DH, but he’s still
caught more than 20 games and his bat is awfully productive. With
apologies to Cleveland’s Carlos Santana, put Martinez on the club
as a catcher and there’s no need to pick another backstop who
doesn’t quite deserve it. Plus, it would make for a neat anomaly:
two All-Star catchers from one big league team.
Outfield – Toronto slugger Jose Bautista had received more
All-Star votes than anyone else in the majors, a sign that fans are
paying attention even when he connects in Canada. He starts in
right field, with New York’s Curtis Granderson in center and
Quentin from the White Sox in left. On the bench is Ellsbury,
another Boston entry, along with Baltimore’s Adam Jones,
Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon, finally
fulfilling his promise after switching from third base to left
Designated Hitter – Ortiz was running away with the fan vote,
and deservedly so. Popular as ever in Boston, Big Papi can still
swing it. The other choice at DH is Texas stalwart Michael Young,
who could also fill in as an infielder if needed.
Starting Pitchers – Detroit flamethrower Justin Verlander is
blossoming into the consistent and dominant ace that was always
expected. He seems to flirt with a no-hitter every time he takes
the mound – and he finished one off this year in Toronto. Verlander
earns the start on a staff that includes fellow right-handers Josh
Beckett (Boston), James Shields (Tampa Bay) and Felix Hernandez
(Seattle), along with Angels teammates Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.
The lefties are CC Sabathia (New York), C.J. Wilson (Texas) and Gio
Relievers – Mariano Rivera is closing in on the career saves
record and shows no signs of slowing down at age 41. New York’s
longtime relief ace is joined in the bullpen by Detroit’s Jose
Valverde, Cleveland’s Chris Perez and Tampa Bay first-timer Kyle
And in the NL:
First Base – Fielder is having a huge season for Milwaukee in
the final year of his contract. The best thing to do, however,
would be to start him at DH and put Votto at first base because the
Cincinnati slugger, last year’s NL MVP, is more adept on defense.
Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard brings his big bat off the bench.
Second Base – Weeks gives the Brewers a powerful threat at the
top of the lineup. His backups are Brandon Phillips, an all-around
cornerstone for the Reds, and Washington rookie Danny Espinosa.
Shortstop – New York Mets dynamo Jose Reyes has been the game’s
most electrifying player this season, dashing around the bases on
doubles, triples and steals. His glove is a plus, too, so he looks
primed to cash in as a 28-year-old free agent next winter –
especially if he’s healthy most of the year. Reyes left Saturday’s
game with tightness in his left hamstring. Behind him is Colorado’s
Troy Tulowitzki, another multitalented star.
Third Base – A thin crop this year, so Braves switch-hitter
Chipper Jones takes a bow. Sure, it’s partly a lifetime achievement
award, but who else would you rather see in this game? Aramis
Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs is on the bench.
Catcher – No doubt about this one. Atlanta’s Brian McCann, the
MVP of last year’s All-Star game, is a runaway choice for his sixth
selection – and first start. Backing him up behind the plate is
Miguel Montero from the hometown Diamondbacks.
Outfield – The starting spots are easy: In center field is Kemp,
the first-half MVP from the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s flanked by
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun in left and a revitalized Lance Berkman of
St. Louis in right. After that it gets tricky, because there are
about a dozen worthy candidates. Here’s who makes the cut:
Arizona’s Justin Upton, New York’s Carlos Beltran, Cincinnati’s Jay
Bruce, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, Houston’s Hunter Pence and
Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez. Left off is Andre Ethier, despite his
30-game hitting streak, and Matt Holliday, who missed 20 games
because of a leg injury and an appendectomy.
Starting Pitchers – Roy Halladay won the NL Cy Young Award in
his first season with Philadelphia and follows it up this year with
an All-Star game start. Phillies left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole
Hamels are also on the staff, along with Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens,
Los Angeles lefty Clayton Kershaw, San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum,
Arizona’s Ian Kennedy, Florida’s Anibal Sanchez and St. Louis’ Kyle
Relievers – Pittsburgh closer Joel Hanrahan went into the
weekend perfect in 23 save chances. Joining him in the bullpen are
San Francisco’s Brian Wilson, San Diego’s Heath Bell and
Cincinnati’s Francisco Cordero.
AP Sports Writers Antonio Gonzalez in San Francisco and Stephen
Hawkins in Arlington, Texas, contributed to this report.