American League Players Who Should Start the All-Star Game: Fan Opinion

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The 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star game is on Tuesday, July 10. We all have our votes and opinions for the starting lineups for each league. I would like to see my favorite players in the game, but I set personal preferences aside and vote for those whom I believe are having the best overall season at each position. Here are my selections for the 2012 American League All-Star starting lineup. All stats are as of the start of play on June 23.

First base - Paul Konerko

Paul Konerko leads the entire American League in hitting at .348. His 13 home runs and 39 RBI have helped put the Chicago White Sox back into contention. He is also on base at .420 thanks to his willingness to take walks. Konerko should contend for the batting title all season.

Second base - Robinson Cano

The New York Yankees always have many All-Star caliber players, but Robinson Cano deserves the starting second base spot. He leads in two of three Triple Crown categories among second basemen with .299 and 15 HR and is tied for second with 35 RBI. The edge I give him over the Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler and the Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis is Cano's .364 on-base average.

Third base - Mark Trumbo

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Mark Trumbo's numbers are .323, 17 HR, and 48 RBI. He edges out the Rangers' Adrian Beltre for my vote. Trumbo strikes out a lot, but he also draws walks as his .376 OBA will show. His OPS is 1.005, and he is slugging .629.

Shortstop - Derek Jeter

The future Hall-of-Fame shortstop leads his position with a .311 average and is second with 40 runs scored. He will still take the walk and get the clutch hits. He keeps climbing the all-time hit list, and he still plays stellar defense. He has also contradicted some critics who said that he needs more days off; Jeter has played in 68 of the Yankees' 69 games so far.

Catcher - Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Even as a Yankee fan, I vote for Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He has 13 home runs and 34 RBI in only 184 at bats. He is a little short of officially qualifying for the batting title race at this point, but his power numbers rival those catchers who do. He leads A.L. catchers in home runs and is third in RBI. His average is only .260, but only three qualifying catchers have a higher average.

Left field - Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton of the Rangers could fight for the American League Triple Crown if he stays healthy. He leads all three categories for left fielders by far with .323, 22 HR, and 64 RBI. He slowed down in June due partly to injury, but his April and May performances alone get him my vote. We should definitely see him in Kansas City.

Center field - Adam Jones

Adam Jones is a huge reason why the Baltimore Orioles have made such a turn-around. Jones is hitting .301 with 18 HR and 39 RBI. Those totals rank him second in all three categories for A.L. center fielders. Without Jones, the Orioles do not win as much as they have so far in 2012.

Right field - Jose Bautista

Even with a .237 average, Jose Bautista gets my vote. He plays a power-hitting position, and he delivers. His 23 home runs lead the entire league, and his 55 RBI are second only to Hamilton's. The Toronto Blue Jays might be well under .500 without him.

Designated Hitter - David Ortiz

David Ortiz beats out Adam Dunn for DH. Dunn's power numbers have returned to All-Star form, but he still strikes out way too much. Ortiz is hitting .305. Dunn has hit only .222, but he leads Ortiz in home runs (23 to 18) and RBI (53 to 49) in tight races. Still, though, I vote for Big Poppy for the much higher average and far fewer strikeouts (38 to Dunn's 111).

Pitcher - Chris Sale

We do not get to vote for pitchers, but if we did, I would pick Chris Sale. The White Sox's new ace is 8-2 with a 2.24 ERA. He has allowed more than three earned runs only once in his last 10 games and one or no runs in seven of those ten. He has done all this in his first season as a starter.

Not every player who deserves to make the All-Star team will. We will all argue over who makes it and who gets snubbed. Obviously, not everyone will agree with my picks, but the arguments make voting more fun.

Sources:

Major League Baseball, Individual Player Pages (linked above), mlb.mlb.com as of June 23, 2012.

Major League Baseball, Sortable Player Statistics, mlb.mlb.com as of June 23, 2012.

Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. He currently coaches Little League in Florida. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau

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