2012 MLB All-Stars
C: Joe Mauer, Twins
At .321/.414/.433, Mauer’s power may be a thing of the past, but he’s still an offensive force and one of the best pure hitting catchers in recent memory. AJ Pierzynski has cooled off considerably after a strong start to the season and Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s poor on-base skills negate his much-improved power showing.
1B: Paul Konerko, White Sox
Even with a wrist injury putting a damper on his numbers in June, the AL’s longest tenured first baseman is outpacing a ton of new headline acts. Albert Pujols took longer than expected to get accustomed to a new league and Prince Fielder, while excellent, has seen his numbers fall slightly in a tougher league and a bigger ballpark.
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
After a slow start, Cano has dramatically improved his OPS in each month — .712 in April, .970 in May, and a sizzling 1.177 in June. He leads all AL second basemen in all three triple-slash categories and his 18 homers are 7 more than Jason Kipnis and more than double every other AL second baseman. Smooth at the plate and in the field, Cano has distinguished himself as the game’s best all around second baseman.
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Cabrera’s power and on-base prowess edges him ahead of the league’s slickest defensive shortstop, KC’s Alcides Escobar. With the game in Kansas City it would be a nice touch to run out the hometown kid as the starter, but Cabrera is just about his equal in the field, and far more advanced as a hitter. Escobar has added enough to his offensive game to be considered a top AL shortstop, but his 43:9 K/BB ratio is still troubling and a .372 BABIP will correct itself over time.
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
The shift across the diamond has been a little rocky defensively for Cabrera, but if it has affected his offense, it’s hard to tell. Having been atop the offensive leaderboards at first base for the past several seasons, Cabrera is having no problem topping the league’s third base crew.
OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
His other-worldly start to the season has enabled him to remain the league’s top outfielder even after hitting a rough patch here in June while dealing with an illness. Hamilton has long been one of the game’s most talented players, and when he avoids injuries and distractions, there’s none better.
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
If Josh Hamilton is the game’s best player now, Mike Trout will be challenging him for that title from here on out. The Angels started slowly this season, but took off once Trout was summoned from the minor leagues. Despite playing in only 53 games this season, Trout leads the American League in batting average (.344) and stolen bases (21). Add in terrific OBP and SLG numbers in addition to one highlight catch a night and you’re looking at a player who is still only 21 and who should be an all-star for years to com.
OF: Mark Trumbo, Angels
Power. That has always been Trumbo’s redeeming quality, but this year he seems to have added average to his bag of tricks. I keep waiting for him to regress, but he continues to rake and has hit his way into all-star consideration. He’s a position-less player who is below average anywhere he plays, but his bat more than makes up for any defensive short-comings.
C: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
Yadier Molina may have more vocal supporters, but Ruiz’s OPS is over 130 points better than Molina, outpacing the Cardinals backstop in average (.362 to .316), on base percentage (.429 to .367) and slugging (.588 to .518).
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
Possibly the easiest call this year, Votto is easily the best of a weak NL first base class. No other NL first baseman is within 100 points of him in either on-base percentage or slugging.
2B: Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
This spot was Dan Uggla’s to lose about a month ago, and lose it he did with a terrible June. While Uggla was mired in a terrible slump, Hill has returned to the form that took him to his first all star appearance in 2009 with Toronto. Brandon Phillips has turned his season around nicely, but here it’s a little too late.
SS: Jed Lowrie, Astros
Rafael Furcal started the season with a bang, but has since faded back to the middle of the pack, while Jimmy Rollins is starting to heat up after a brutal start to the season. Lowrie’s average is relatively low at .266, but he makes up for it with patience (.355 OBP) and pop (.500 SLG), both tops among NL shortstops.
3B: David Wright, Mets
No one expected Wright to hit .400 for the entire season, but here we are nearing the midway point of the season and Wright’s triple slash line is still insanely good (.357/.449/.559). Wright is second in the National League in both average (Ruiz) and OBP (Votto) and third in OPS (Votto & Ruiz). He’s a pretty clear-cut selection here.
OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Gonzalez has blossomed into one of the league’s truly elite players and leads a bevy of impressive National League outfielders. Playing half his games in Coors Field certainly helps (1.171 home OPS vs. 806 away OPS) but he’s improved his platoon splits and deserves to start the all star game.
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
McCutchen leads the Pirates in everything. Literally everything. Average, on base percentage, slugging, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, walks, everything. His first half has earned him this spot, but he’ll hope to sustain his success through the second half after falling off towards the end of last season.
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Even with his overturned positive PED test hanging over him this season, Braun has put up his usual ridiculous numbers (.311/.392/.596). Prince Fielder’s departure to Detroit via free agency left Ryan Braun rather unprotected in the lineup, but his .988 OPS is just .006 points below last season’s MVP campaign.