2010 AL All-Stars
C—Joe Mauer, MIN
Mauer isn’t having quite the year he had last year, but has still turned in a .307/.383/.489 season thus far, and has been an asset defensively as well. In a league without too many elite catching options, Mauer is head and shoulders above his peers. His power numbers have dropped off from last year, but he’s still hitting for a high average and getting on-base.
1B—Justin Morneau, MIN
Joe Mauer’s teammate is once again having a quiet MVP-type of season. His .346 batting average is third in the American League and his 1.057 OPS is the league’s best number. Morneau has been worth 4.5 wins above replacement so far this year, also tops in the American League. Miguel Cabrera gets an honorable mention here, but Morneau has been better and deserves the nod.
2B—Robinson Cano, NYY
The Yankees second baseman has been the second most valuable player in the American League this year, racking up a 4.3 WAR in just 74 games. He leads the American League with a .359 batting average and has thrived in his new role as a run producer for New York with 14 homers and 50 RBI. Smooth defensively, Cano’s all around game has improved beyond all expectations as he’s grown into one of the league’s best all around hitters.
SS—Derek Jeter, NYY
In a league that once boasted Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter as elite shortstops, a 36-year old Jeter now leads a less inspiring group of players. Jeter hasn’t been near as good as he was in 2009, but the rather lackluster collection of league-average shortstops gets him an all-star nod. Texas youngster Elvis Andrus has exceeded expectations in the early going
3B—Evan Longoria, TB
The golden boy of Tampa Bay has enjoyed yet another impressive season, despite being surrounded by underperforming and streaky hitters. He leads AL third basemen in multiple offensive categories and plays smothering defense at the hot corner.
OF—Josh Hamilton, TEX
Hamilton started off the season slowly and injured, but ended June smoldering hot. He hit over .400 for the month, and is in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak. His 3.6 WAR is second only to Carl Crawford among AL outfielders, although he’s been worth 7.8 more runs with the bat than the Tampa speedster.
OF—Carl Crawford, TB
Crawford leads all AL outfielders in worth so far in 2010, checking in at 3.8 wins above replacement. While Crawford is no slouch at the plate, much of his value comes from his exception work in the field. Whereas over 95% of Josh Hamilton’s value comes from his bat, Crawford’s worth is move even, as he’s been worth 14.6 runs above replacement with the bat and 15.4 runs above replacement with the glove.
OF—Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
Another year passes and Ichiro continues to be of immense value to his team by slapping singles all over the field and playing excellent defense. Ichiro has maintained his high batting average and on-base percentage this year and is running more than he has in the past few years. He has 21 stolen bases already in 2010 after have 26 in all of 2009.
DH—Vladimir Guerrero, TEX
Boston’s David Ortiz has had a nice turnaround after a horrific start to the season, but Vlad has been one of the league’s best hitters all year. He has significant home and road splits, but has been worth 2.0 wins above replacement without playing the field.
C—Victor Martinez, BOS
Martinez started slowly, but like the Red Sox, he’s picked up steam as the summer rolled around. He is actually outperforming Mauer at the plate (.825 to .821 OPS) but his defensive ineptitude relegates him to the bench.
1B—Miguel Cabrera, DET
Cabrera has responded to a dark end of 2009 with an MVP caliber start to 2010. Most years he would have done enough to be awarded the starting gig, but Morneau’s insane season beats him out.
2B—Orlando Hundson, MIN
Dustin Pedroia’s broken foot will probably keep him out of the game, so Minnesota’s small-time offseason pickup gets the nod.
SS—Elvis Andrus, TEX
The young shortstop has taken some big steps forward in his second year, and deserves the all-star nod
3B—Adrian Beltre, BOS
Beltre is combining the comfy confines of Fenway Park and the fact that he’s in a contract year into one very good season. Offensively, he’s been more than anyone could have expected, and his defense has been as advertised.
OF—Alex Rios, CWS
Dumped by Toronto late last season, Chicago surprisingly took on the enormous salary of a player who seemed to be on the downside of his career. But Rios has turned in a very solid start to 2010, making the high salary more bearable for the White Sox
OF—Shin Shoo Choo, CLE
Cleveland’s lone representative makes the team based on performance, not league-mandated policy. Choo has been the sixth most valuable outfielder in the AL, despite being the only league average hitter in his lineup.
OF—Ben Zobrist, TB
The super-utility man can play well almost anywhere on the diamond, and he is having another solid year following his breakout year of 2009. His power has been sapped a bit, but has still been worth 9.2 runs above replacement with the bat.
OF—Magglio Ordonez, DET
While the Tigers dreaded Ordonez’s option kicking in last season, they’re probably glad about it now. He’s the league’s seventh most valuable player, with most of his value tied to his resurgent bat.
OF—Nick Markakis, BAL
Baltimore is the one team in baseball that doesn’t field a player worthy of an all-star berth. Markakis is the least disappointing of the bunch, and even then, he’s only been the 18th most valuable AL outfielder.
SP—Cliff Lee, SEA
Despite starting the season on the disabled list and missing a month, Lee has been the most valuable starting pitcher this season (3.7 WAR). He leads the league in both ERA and WHIP—that’s how impressive he’s been since coming back. If his next few starts are as impressive as his first two months have been, Lee is an easy choice to start the game for the junior circuit.
SP—Jon Lester, BOS
The first handful of starts Lester made were duds, but as he did in 2009, he quickly put them behind him and has become one of the top starters in the league. His ERA is down below 3.00 again and he was worth 2.7 wins above replacement before his complete game victory in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.
SP—Ricky Romero, TOR
Romero was best known before this season as the guy that Toronto passed on Troy Tulowitzki for in the draft. But Romero has become equally impressive, if not more so than his fellow draftee. Romero is fourth in the league in strikeouts and has become a reliable ace for the team that traded its longtime ace, Roy Halladay.
SP—Francisco Liriano, MIN
Finally all the way back from Tommy John surgery, Liriano is having himself a fine season. He’s been the second most valuable starter, only 0.1 WAR behind Cliff Lee. He’s gotten his strikeout pitch working again and is fifth in the league with 100.
SP—Jered Weaver, LAA
The third and final AL pitcher that has been worth at least 3.0 WAR this season, Weaver has seen a dramatic rise in his K/9 and K/BB rates this season and has used those increases to fashion himself into a Cy Young contender.
SP—Felix Hernandez, SEAHernandez has been an innings-eater for the M’s this season and forms the game’s best 1-2 punch in baseball with Cliff Lee. Often times, the term innings-eater is applied to pitchers who can pitch a lot of innings, but aren’t necessarily good pitchers. Hernandez’s league-leading 112 innings have been excellent. Of his 16 starts, 13 of them have been quality starts, which leads the league.
SP—Justin Verlander, DET
His 4.02 ERA may seem high, but Verlander’s FIP is much lower (3.40) indicating he’s run into some bad luck and had bad defense played behind him. Even with the bad luck and bad defense, he’s the fifth most valuable starter in the AL at 2.3 WAR.
RP—Neftali Feliz, TEX
Texas moved Feliz into the vacant closer’s spot to get his arm to the majors as quick as possible, and he’s been outstanding in the role this season. He leads the AL in saves and is striking out more than a batter per inning. All that adds up to being worth 1.0 WAR halfway through the season as a reliever. Impressive.
RP—Mariano Rivera, NYY
Age doesn’t seem to slow Rivera the way is does mortal players. Rivera has blown only one save this year and leads all relievers in with a 0.62 WHIP.
RP—Jose Valverde, DET
Valverde’s 0.57 has been propped up by a lot of luck, as his 3.01 FIP is considerably higher. A very low BABIP (.120) and a very high LOB% (92.6%) have led to the low ERA.
RP—Matt Thornton, CWS
Thornton is Chicago’s best reliever, by far, and yet he doesn’t close for them. The White Sox in fact, have two relievers better than the one that gets saves for them. Ozzie Guillen really is clueless. Thornton, despite toiling away as a setup man, has been the most valuable reliever in the AL and is one of the few lefties that is death on lefties and righties.
RP—Joel Zumaya, DET
If Thornton is the best left-handed set-up man, Zumaya is the best right-handed one. Arm problems have limited him the past few seasons, but he’s returned full strength this season, pumping 100mph gas past just about everyone (Chipper Jones not included)
RP—Daniel Bard, BOS
Bard has thrived setting up for Boston this season, but has had problems when asked to close. Which makes Boston fan’s cries for him to replace the sporadic Papelbon seem unfounded. But he’s been tremendous as the 8th-inning guy and deserves an all-star nod.
RP—Joakim Soria, KC
He hasn’t been as lights out as he has in past seasons, but each team still needs to send a representative. Both Billy Butler and Zack Greinke will probably be crowded out of the game because of the depth of their position. So Soria has to be it.
RP—Andrew Bailey, OAK
Oakland’s representative for the second consecutive season.