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Picking The All-Stars: AL Edition

The All-Star Game isn’t for another 35 days, but with the voting in full swing and enough of the season under our belts, I figure it’s time to weigh in on how I’d fill out the roster if I were Grand Poobah and had the final say on all 34 players. I will note up front that I believe the All-Star Game is an annual affair, and we shouldn’t simply have the same collection of players every year just because those are the “true stars”. The All-Star Game is best when it serves as both a platform for the game’s greatest players and recognition for those who have earned their way in. I will not be putting players on the roster who have not performed well in 2013, even if they are bonafide stars.

We’ll start with the American League, with the NL to follow in its own post. As a reminder, the rosters now comprise 34 players, which I’ll be splitting as 21 position players and 13 pitchers, as that has been the final tally for the game most of the last few years. And, yes, we’re honoring the rule requiring every team to be represented. I’ll list each player by the tier of how they got selected, then put the final roster down below. On to the picks.

The Game Would Be A Farce Without Them

These players are the epitome of All-Stars; great players having great seasons. I imagine there will be little disagreement about any of these 14 selections. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable case for excluding any of these players, assuming they still healthy for the next few weeks anyway.

Miguel Cabrera, DET, 3B: +3.9 WAR
Mike Trout, ANA, OF: +3.4 WAR
Evan Longoria, TB, 3B: +3.3 WAR
Dustin Pedroia, BOS, 2B: +2.9 WAR
Joe Mauer, MIN, C: +2.7 WAR
Jose Bautista, TOR, OF: +2.5 WAR
David Ortiz, BOS, DH: +1.8 WAR
Robinson Cano, NYY, 2B: +1.6 WAR

Anibal Sanchez, DET, SP: +3.4 WAR
Felix Hernandez, SEA, SP: +3.0 WAR
Clay Buchholz, BOS, SP: +2.9 WAR
Justin Verlander, DET, SP: +2.7 WAR
Yu Darvish, TEX, SP: +2.7 WAR
Mariano Rivera, NYY, RP: +0.9 WAR

They’ve Earned It

You wouldn’t have necessarily pegged these guys as All-Stars headed into the season, but their 2013 performance has been so stellar that they have to be there. You might have a different line for how great a performance needs to be to overcome a lack of a track record, but these seven players should clear most people’s bar and get in based on their performance to date.

Chris Davis, BAL, 1B: +3.3 WAR
Manny Machado, BAL, 3B: +3.1 WAR
Josh Donaldson, OAK, 3B: +2.9 WAR
Jhonny Peralta, DET, SS: +2.6 WAR

Derek Holland, SP, TEX: +2.7 WAR
James Shields, KC, SP: +2.2 WAR
Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA, SP: +2.1 WAR

The Team Representative

These guys are mostly worthy candidates anyway, but they are also the best choice to represent the three franchises that did not have a player listed above.

Carlos Santana, CLE, C: +1.7 WAR
Jason Castro, HOU, C: +1.4 WAR

Chris Sale, CHW, SP: +1.9 WAR

The Reserves

With 14 hitters and 10 pitchers already on the roster, that leaves us 10 spots to fill, so it’s time to start looking at where the holes are. The AL is certainly deeper at some positions — third base being the most obvious — than others, and we need to make sure the final 10 spots are filled with deserving players who also fit into the spots that we have not already filled — primarily, that’s middle infield and outfielders. Here are the 10 guys who both fit the All-Star criteria and fill the current openings.

Brett Gardner, NYY, OF: +2.2 WAR
Coco Crisp, OAK, OF: +2.1 WAR
J.J. Hardy, BAL, SS: +2.0 WAR
Mark Trumbo, ANA, OF: +1.9 WAR
Alex Gordon, KC, OF: +1.6 WAR
Ben Zobrist, TB, UT: +1.5 WAR
Prince Fielder, DET, 1B: +1.1 WAR

Max Scherzer, SP, DET: +2.9 WAR
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, NYY: +1.7 WAR
Glen Perkins, RP, MIN: +0.9 WAR

The Final Roster

That leaves us with these 34 players. The starters are listed first and are in bold, with the reserves afterwards.

Name Team Position PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
Joe Mauer Twins C 261 0.332 0.414 0.498 0.392 150 1.1 -0.1 2.7
Carlos Santana Indians C 241 0.283 0.386 0.483 0.376 142 -3.4 -1.4 1.7
Jason Castro Astros C 227 0.266 0.322 0.464 0.336 112 0.0 0.1 1.4
Chris Davis Orioles 1B 263 0.333 0.411 0.684 0.452 188 -1.4 0.3 3.2
Prince Fielder Tigers 1B 281 0.284 0.388 0.500 0.381 140 -5.6 -2.0 1.1
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B 293 0.331 0.416 0.457 0.381 138 2.4 1.4 2.9
Robinson Cano Yankees 2B 271 0.272 0.339 0.500 0.357 123 -2.1 0.0 1.6
Jhonny Peralta Tigers SS 243 0.339 0.388 0.493 0.380 140 1.9 0.5 2.6
J.J. Hardy Orioles SS 262 0.271 0.307 0.486 0.339 111 4.6 -0.7 2.0
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 3B 288 0.361 0.444 0.647 0.458 193 -6.9 1.4 3.9
Evan Longoria Rays 3B 275 0.305 0.360 0.530 0.380 146 7.3 -0.2 3.3
Manny Machado Orioles 3B 294 0.316 0.352 0.484 0.361 126 11.6 -2.0 3.1
Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B 270 0.324 0.393 0.521 0.392 152 1.5 -1.0 2.9
Mike Trout Angels OF 296 0.304 0.375 0.554 0.395 155 -1.0 4.3 3.4
Jose Bautista Blue Jays OF 257 0.267 0.370 0.516 0.380 140 4.6 0.9 2.5
Brett Gardner Yankees OF 265 0.284 0.349 0.453 0.349 118 4.8 0.5 2.2
Coco Crisp Athletics OF 219 0.290 0.381 0.489 0.373 139 -0.8 3.4 2.1
Mark Trumbo Angels OF 282 0.268 0.344 0.512 0.367 136 1.2 -0.1 1.9
Alex Gordon Royals OF 265 0.304 0.347 0.449 0.345 117 2.5 1.4 1.6
Ben Zobrist Rays UT 266 0.274 0.365 0.404 0.340 118 -2.8 2.8 1.5
David Ortiz Red Sox DH 200 0.314 0.395 0.623 0.425 167 -0.1 -0.2 1.8
Name Team POS IP BB% K% HR/9 ERA- FIP- xFIP- WAR RA9WAR
Clay Buchholz Red Sox SP 84.1 9% 25% 0.21 40 59 80 2.9 4.2
Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP 78.0 6% 31% 0.35 64 44 60 3.4 2.3
Felix Hernandez Mariners SP 97.2 5% 27% 0.55 65 63 63 3.0 2.9
Max Scherzer Tigers SP 83.1 6% 32% 0.65 78 58 69 2.9 2.1
Yu Darvish Rangers SP 88.1 8% 34% 0.92 63 65 64 2.7 3.0
Derek Holland Rangers SP 79.2 6% 23% 0.45 65 60 79 2.7 2.3
Justin Verlander Tigers SP 80.0 8% 27% 0.56 89 63 75 2.7 1.4
James Shields Royals SP 93.0 7% 23% 0.77 68 79 84 2.2 2.9
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP 95.1 4% 25% 0.94 47 81 77 2.1 3.9
Chris Sale White Sox SP 77.1 6% 24% 0.81 63 76 83 1.9 2.6
Hiroki Kuroda Yankees SP 79.1 5% 18% 0.79 68 84 96 1.7 2.6
Mariano Rivera Yankees RP 24.1 4% 24% 0.37 35 56 78 0.9 1.2
Glen Perkins Twins RP 22.2 7% 38% 0.79 69 54 54 0.9 0.6

And, finally, the starting line-up.

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jose Bautista, RF
6. Chris Davis, 1B
7. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
8. Jhonny Peralta, SS
9. Brett Gardner, LF

Based on both career track record and 2013 performance, this is how I’d fill out the AL All-Star roster. There are a lot of great players who didn’t make the cut, and there are certainly judgment calls here that could have gone another direction, but overall, I think this is a pretty good set of players who would represent the American League quite well.