Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Unknown All-Star Team

American League:

C- Alex Avila (DET) .287, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 3 SB:

This guy ended up sneaking past Russell Martin in the fan vote to earn the starting catcher position, but his leap to All-Star status is as shocking as any story this season. Avila's average has been hovering around .300 (.303 as of July 1st), hopefully his current 1 for 16 July slump will end after the All-Star break. Among eligible catchers; his 10 homers tie him for 6th in the league, while his 46 RBIs are the most among AL catchers and are just two behind Atlanta's Brian McCann for the MLB lead. Even his speed has been underrated, Avila is yet to be caught in all 3 of his attempts, which ties him with 4 other catchers for second in the league (well behind Russell Martin's 7). This has been an absolutely atrocious season for catchers; Mauer, Soto, and Napoli have all been huge disappointments and Buster Posey seems to be done for the season. With Victor Martinez playing DH for the Tigers, the only proven hitting catcher left is Avila's counterpart: National League starter Brian McCann.

1B- Mark Trumbo (LAA) .253, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 8 SB:

Cases could be made for Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Texiera, or Miguel Cabrera to be start at first base for the American League; but Gonzalez won the fan vote and Cabrera made the team as a reserve (leaving Texiera as one of the biggest snubs). But the next tier of players consists of two guys who have really rebounded from bad seasons and criticism: Paul Konerko and Adam Lind. Both these guys are in the top 5 among AL first basemen in both homers and RBIs, while also sporting averages above .300. But it's the Angel's Mark Trumbo who deserves this spot; the rookie was thrown in to replace Kendrys Morales, who suffered a fluke injury while celebrating a walk-off HR, and has flourished batting 6th for the Angels. His 14 HRs and 37 RBIs before the All-Star break are outstanding numbers, especially for a rookie. He is 6th among American League first basemen in HRs and his power, freak-situation, and youth earn him this recognition.

2B- Ben Zobrist (TB) .272, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 58 Runs, 8 SB:

The top 3 second basemen in the AL are all familiar names: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Ian Kinsler; but after that the list includes some lesser known guys, such as Howie Kendrick and Ben Zobrist. Like the aforementioned Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick has been a surprsing spark in the Angels' lineup; but he's also been a very versatile fielder (playing 17 games in LF, 15 games at 1B, and 50 games at 2B). Kendrick has been a great hitter all season: batting .307 with 8 HRs, 29 RBIs, 42 runs, and 9 SBs. But Zobrist's ridiculous start to the season gave him the edge over Kendrick on my list, despite the sub .300 average. Since the true test of an "all-star" is solely first half performance then we have to look at April 28th, when the Rays had a day-night doubleheader against the Twins. Zobrist had 5 runs, 7 hits, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, and a stolen base in those two games (including 8 RBIs in the first game alone). Frankly, that stat line alone makes him deserving of this spot, even though he has only 1 home run since the month of April and none in the entire month of June. Yesterday, on the road against the Yankees, Zobrist showed just how dangerous he could be: finishing a double away from the cycle (hitting a homerun, single, triple and walking all before the 7th inning stretch). Among true-everyday AL second basemen, Zobrist is 3rd in both homeruns and RBIs. Although he did not win the "Final Spot Fan Vote", falling to Paul Konerko, Ben Zobrist has proven that he has the support of his team, the fans, and the entire city of Tampa.

SS- Asdrubal Cabrera/Jhonny Peralta

3B- Alex Gordon

OF- Curtis Granderson, Adam Lind, Brennan Boesch


C-Miguel Montero/Jonathan Lucroy
1B- Michael Morse/Gaby Sanchez
2B- Danny Espinosa/Neil Walker
SS- Starlin Castro
OF- Michael Bourn
3B- Placido Palanco

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