My American League All-Star Picks
C – Joe Mauer, MIN
Even after missing the first month of the season, Joe Mauer’s my pick. He fixed the only supposed flaw in his game by smacking 14 home runs in his first 200 at bats.
1B – Justin Morneau, MIN
Morneau should join Mauer in the starting lineup for the Junior Circuit. Since his MVP season he’s done nothing but drive in runs and produce and this year is no exception.
2B – Aaron Hill, TOR
One of quite a few surprising Jays this year, Hill’s consistency has kept the Jays hanging around.
SS – Derek Jeter, NYY
Tales of his demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated as he’s hitting a cool .309 with 9 homers and 30 runs driven in. His plate discipline is the best it’s ever been and his defensive zone rating is tops among qualifying AL shortstops.
3B – Evan Longoria, TB
A monster start has inflated his overall numbers, but he’s still the clear choice to man the hot corner for the AL.
LF – Carl Crawford, TB
40 swipes before July gives Crawford a shot at 100 stolen bases. He should be leading off for Joe Maddon.
CF – Torii Hunter, LAA
This guy seems to get better with age. With his teammates succumbing to injuries all around him, Hunter has thus far paired an excellent offensive season with out-of-this-world defense.
RF – Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
Ichiro’s stuck atop one of the worst lineups in baseball, but it’s no fault of his. All he’s doing is hitting .372 and swiping 13 bags.
C – Victor Martinez, CLE
Cooled off somewhat from a torrid start, but clearly a head above the rest of the AL class of catchers.
1B – Russell Branyan, SEA
Someone finally gave him a chance at full-time duty and he’s made the most of it. He leads all AL first basemen in OPS and his 38 RBI are due more to Seattle’s jayvee lineup than his own ineptitude.
2B – Ian Kinsler, TEX
The second base toss-up loser is Kinsler, who by some accounts may be having a finer season than the AL starter, Hill.
2B – Ben Zobrist, TB
A season-ending injury to Akinori Iwamura allowed Zobrist to play every day for the defending AL champs. All he’s done is lead the league in OPS at 1.026
SS – Jason Barlett, TB
A .276 career hitter before 2009, the throw-in from the Matt Garza deal is raking this year, hitting more than 100 points better than his career average.
3B – Brandon Inge, DET
The former catcher gets this spot over the seemingly rejuvenated Scott Rolen. Inge is a threat to give you a spectacular play every night at third, and has shown impressive pop this year.
OF – Jason Bay, BOS
Another player coming back down to earth after an inhuman start to the season, Bay clearly has his eye on his impending free agency and is producing accordingly.
OF – Adam Jones, BAL
The Eric Bedard centerpiece is Torii Hunter lite, depositing balls over the fence in the top of an inning, then bringing them back in the bottom half.
OF – Johnny Damon, NYY
Damon, like Bay has enjoyed playing for a new contract. He’s already popped 14 home runs, just 10 off his career high and is head back to Yankee Stadium’s porch for a long home stand.
SP – Zack Greinke, KC
I’m handing him the start in his cross-town rival’s park. Even a small stumble couldn’t jack his ERA up above 2.00. The All-Star Game should be the first time Greinke starts this year with major league hitters backing his efforts.
SP – Roy Halladay, TOR
Head of the class as usual is Doc Halladay, but a short DL stint cut back on his time. He’s been busy mowing through AL lineups all season, and should do the same to the class of the NL.
SP – Felix Hernandez, SEA
Continuing to build on his early success, King Felix is having a terrific year by anyone’s standards. Very quietly, he’s right up there with Greinke and Halladay.
SP – Edwin Jackson, DET
Highly touted throughout the Dodgers and Rays farm systems, Jackson is finally realizing his immense potential in Detroit.
SP – Kevin Millwood, TEX
He’s been the workhorse ace the expected, but never really got when they signed him in 2006. Only Greinke’s thrown more innings than Millwood and only the guys listed above him have better ERA’s.
SP – Jered Weaver, LAA
With so many decimating injuries to the Angels’ rotation, Weaver’s been rock solid for them since day one.
SP – Justin Verlander, DET
Verlander started 2009 much like he ended 2008 – terrible. But he’s rebounded impressively and leads the AL in strikeouts.
RP – Frank Francisco, TEX
Apart from a minor injury that limited Francisco early in the season, he’s been about as dominant as Texas could have hoped for. A 1.23 ERA and 23 K’s in 22 innings has made the end of games less of a mystery for the Rangers.
Joe Nathan, MIN
Since being traded for AJ Pierzynski, Nathan’s been nothing short of automatic.
Mariano Rivera, RP
Is there anyone else you’d rather have on the mound with home-field advantage on the line. He was atypically prone to the long ball early in the season, but his control remains impeccable with a 13:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
RP – Matt Thornton, CWS
Thornton’s here because the White Sox are required to have a representative.
RP – Andrew Bailey, OAK
Oakland is also required to have a representative, and Bailey’s pretty much been money out of the bullpen for the A’s all season.
RP – Hideki Okajima, BOS
Okajima, along with offseason arrival Ramon Ramirez, has been the automatic bridge to Jonathan Papelbon all year and is a big reason why Boston holds the best record in the American League