Last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates had three players make the National League All-Star team. The 2012 season doesn't look quite as promising for the Pirates' All-Star chances, but Andrew McCutchen seems like their best possibility. Is McCutchen having a good enough season to be a starter in the National League?
These are the players that deserve to be on the National League All-Star's starting lineup:
I know it's early to be discussing All-Star teams, but Major League Baseball has already released the ballots, so we might as well fill them out. The obvious choice for the National League All-Star team is Matt Kemp. Kemp is the one player that it isn't too early to vote for because at this rate he'll easily be an All-Star player in July. Kemp leads all of Major League Baseball in OPS, batting average, RBIs and home runs.
So where does McCutchen fit in? Well, McCutchen is batting .321, and you can't really fault the lack of production in other areas on him. How often do you see a player bat .321 over 20 games and it only results in six RBI because his team's offense is so bad? That being said, McCutchen has yet to hit a home run. If he'd hit for more power this year then some of those RBIs would come.
McCutchen should make the All-Star team because who else on the Pirates are you going to take at this point? Rhe second and third starting outfielders should be Carlos Beltran and Andre Ethier. Neither are among the top outfielders in hitting, but both are producing runs for their first-place teams. Both players have some help in Kemp and David Freese, but their offenses would be significantly worse without them. Other outfielders that are playing well include Cincinnati's Jay Bruce, Atlanta's Michael Bourn, Milwaukee's Corey Hart and Colorado's Michael Cuddyer. New York's Lucas Duda is also coming on strong, and Chris Young was a sure thing for the All-Star team before getting injured.
At the catcher position, Brian McCann is having pretty solid numbers once again, Yadier Molina is having another good offensive season, and Josh Thole is hitting .340, despite average stats in other categories. The clear starter for the National League All-Star team is Buster Posey, though. Posey is leading all catchers with a .354 batting average, 1.008 OPS, four home runs and 15 RBIs.
With the departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder the race for starting first basemen is wide open. Youngster Freddie Freeman from the Atlanta Braves is having a good season, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto is right there with Freeman in batting average, has a higher OPS, and walks more. But right now the National League first basemen that should start in the All-Star game is actually Adam LaRoche. LaRoche is batting .338, has hit four home runs, has 17 RBIs, and is one of the reasons that the Nationals are the surprise of the National League.
Last year, the second base position was dominated by the National League Central. Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips, Milwaukee's Richie Weeks and Pittsburgh's Neil Walker were the leaders in most offensive categories. This year, the top hitter among second basemen is Houston's Jose Altuve. Altuve leads National League second basemen in stolen bases and is second to Dan Uggla in RBIs. Uggla is another player that should get consideration. He has better power numbers, but he's only batting .266. New York's Daniel Murphy is also having a nice season, batting .310. Omar Infante of the Marlins is batting .327.
The shortstop position is a very close race between three players, in my opinion. Troy Tulowitzki is the only one of the three with any home runs, and he leads all shortstops with 14 runs scored. Rafael Furcal is batting .310 and has a .812 OPS. Starlin Castro is leading with a .337 average and has posted an OPS of .805. Castro has an extra-dimension with his ability to steal bases though. If Tulowitzki was having a normal season defensively then that would maybe put him over the top, but the Colorado shortstop already has as many errors as he had all of last year. Castro edges out the other two.
As great as Freese has been for the first-place Cardinals, the third base position might be the most difficult to figure out. David Wright is currently batting .385 with an OPS of 1.050. Wright's other numbers are a bit low, but he's playing with a lineup that is full of no-names. Pablo Sandoval and Freese have better stats in other categories and are still batting .314 and .343, respectively. Then there is San Diego's Chase Headley, one of the few bright spots of the Padres. Headley is second to Freese in home runs and RBIs, but does not hit for a high average. Freese has been great, but I'm going to say Wright should start due to having a 1.050 OPS in an offense that otherwise isn't very special.
All MLB Stats were found at MLB.com
The last several generations of Lee Andrew Henderson's family were Pittsburgh born and even though he was born in Alabama he has been a long time fan of the Pirates, Steelers and Panthers. Lee Andrew Henderson can be found on Twitter at @LeeAHenderson.
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