Stat Nerd AL All-Star Roster

On Sunday, the rosters (minus the 34th guy, who is voted in by the fans after the announcement) for the 83rd All-Star game will be announced, and you can be sure that next Monday will be full or discussion over who should and shouldn’t have been included. We’re just going to move up the discussion a few days, though, and so this afternoon I’m presenting the rosters I would select if I have complete and total authority and I was so shallow that I used that authority to select rosters for the All-Star Game. This is a weird hypothetical, but let’s go with it for now.

One quick note – I’m a guy who believes that the All-Star Game is more of a reward for the players than a spectacle for the fans, though it is obviously both at the same time. As such, I place more importance on first half performance than some others who feel that the game should always just be filled with the best players of their time, regardless of how they did in the first three months of the season. If a guy has three fluke months, I’m not keeping him out just because I don’t think he can keep it up. First half totals aren’t the only factor, but for me, they’re the biggest one.

Oh, and we’re playing by the rules, so every team gets a representative, deserving or not, and injured players were not considered since they’re, you know, injured. On to the rosters, with the starter listed first.

Catchers: Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Mauer’s had a nice bounce back season and is one of the few things going right in Minnesota this year. Wieters has been up-and-down at the plate but is a monster defensively, and Salty has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the year in Boston. All three are deserving on their own merits, and none of them are here because we needed a representative for their team.

Apologies To: Mike Napoli, A.J. Pierzynski

First Base: Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion

Konerko is one of the main reasons the White Sox are atop the AL Central and is a pretty easy pick to serve as the starter this year. Dunn’s resurgence deserves recognition, as does the pretty fantastic performance being put up in Toronto by Encarnacion. Fielder is the only representative of the guys you’d expect to be here, as Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez are notably absent, but they just haven’t played like All-Stars this year.

Apologies To: No one. It’s not a very good year for first baseman.

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist

The Yankees second baseman has pulled away from the pack, but Kipnis and Zobrist are both deserving candidates. Kinsler has faded after a hot start, but with 34 man rosters, there’s room for a quality player having a solid first half, especially since Zobrist can function as a utility guy and play multiple positions.

Apologies To: Ian Kinsler

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera

You could make a case for Cabrera as the starter, but Andrus is having a fantastic year as well, and is definitely the better defender of the two. Besides, you can bring Kipnis and Cabrera in at the same time and have them take over as the AL’s middle infield tandem, which is kind of fun.

Apologies To: Alcides Escobar, Derek Jeter. Escobar made the cut before I realized I had 35 guys, so he was the last cut, and I wish I had room for him.

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Moustakas

Beltre is cementing himself as one of the game’s premier all around players, providing his usual combination of good offense and great defense. Cabrera’s offense is down but still All-Star worthy, and Moustakas is one of the best breakout stories of the year.

Apologies To: Brett Lawrie, Kyle Seager

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Austin Jackson, Josh Willingham, Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Josh Reddick

Apologies To: Matt Joyce, Seth Smith, Alex Gordon, Colby Rasmus, Curtis Granderson

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

The easiest selection in the sport. Big Papi is deserving and has little competition among regular DHs.

Apologies To: Billy Butler

Starting Pitchers: Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Jered Weaver, David Price, Jason Hammel, Jake Peavy

Verlander’s a no-brainer, but there’s a lot of nits to pick after that. Price and Hammel get extra credit for pitching in the AL East, and the White Sox duo have to overcome a tough park to pitch in as well. There are other deserving candidates, but with a large field to pick from, you have to draw lines somewhere.

Apologies To: C.J. Wilson, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harrison

Relief Pitchers: Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Tom Wilhelmsen, Chris Perez

Nathan and Rodney have both been astonishingly good after being somewhat written off, and both deserve credit for rejuvenating their careers this season. Perez hasn’t allowed a home run all year, which is why he leads the AL in saves and is a deserving selection, while Wilhelmsen is both a terrific reliever and the most deserving member of the Mariners roster. If you found room for someone from Seattle elsewhere on the roster, you could argue for any number of other deserving candidates, but since we filled out the team without any Mariners before now, Wilhelmsen gets the call.

Apologies To: Jim Johnson, Scott Downs, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano, Scott Atchison, Countless Others

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

73 Responses to “Stat Nerd AL All-Star Roster”

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  1. Joe B says:

    Interesting that Seager was mentioned and not T Plouffe.

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    • byron says:

      Seager has almost 150% the PAs that Plouffe does.

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      • Joe B says:

        With vastly inferior stats, including many counting stats.

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      • ThirteenOfTwo says:

        You’re right, Plouffe should have gotten a mention. However, I don’t think he’s been a markedly better player than Seager this year; I think they’ve actually performed at roughly equal levels.

        They’ve both been unlucky on batted balls, though Seager is historically a higher-BABIP hitter than Plouffe. Of course, Plouffe’s ridiculous .234 BABIP deserves a mention, since it’s remarkable that he’s got a wRC+ above 100 with a BABIP like that… but his ISO is .291, literally double what he did last year. Seager’s ISO might be sustainable but Plouffe’s is certainly not. Kyle’s a year and a half younger and has a slightly better infield glove, though he loses points for not playing the outfield. Plouffe won’t sustain his current HR/FB and thus his counting stats, but Seager will.

        I actually see them performing at very similar levels this season and (potentially) going forward. Plouffe probably does merit a mention, but Seager’s stats are in no way “vastly inferior”.

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  2. Kernel says:

    No Frieri? Even as an apology?

    Overall, great list, of course.

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    • Nik says:

      Saves man! They mean the world!

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      • Kyle H says:

        they do in the all star voting

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      • shubox says:

        Dude, he’s striking out almost 15 per 9

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      • Turks Teeth says:

        Not to mention the LOB%, which destroys Perez and Wilhelmsen. I frankly have no clue why Wilhelmsen is on this list over Frieri, apart from the former being a Mariner and the latter being an Angel. Ernesto was terrific in San Diego, and hasn’t given up a single run since joining the Angels.

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      • Matthias says:

        By rule, the Mariners–like every other team in the AL–must have one representative. You could try to slot Saunders in the OF, or Seager at third, but they would be taking the place of much better players.

        Wilhelmsen over Frieri is less of a jump in my opinion than the other two. He still strikes out 11/9, and walks less than Frieri. And WIlhelmsen is not being aided by Frieri’s .133 BABIP since he began pitching in the AL.

        I’m not saying Wilhelmsen’s necessarily better, but if a Mariner has to be there, that’s the spot to put him.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      There’s just too many good relievers to name them all. Frieri was hurt in part by starting the year in the NL.

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  3. phoenix2042 says:

    I would have given at least an apology to Curtis Granderson. His defense is being horribly underrated this year (he is not a -20 defender), and the home runs and on base skills are pretty huge.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Whoops – forgot to list the Apologies To for outfielders. Nice catch.

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      having looked at Granderson’s page again, I can’t believe what a bad defender UZR thinks he is. I mean he isn’t great, but he looks at least average to the eye test. Maybe he takes a couple bad routes, but he has great speed to make up for it. Yet UZR has him at about a -30 UZR/150 pace. He cannot be nearly that bad.

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      • Kyle H says:

        wouldnt the yankees benefit immensely from moving Gardner into center, once he is back? I cant understand why they didnt do that as early as last year.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        Kyle, they wouldn’t move Jeter off short for Arod way back when. I don’t think they move Granderson for Gardner, even though it would make so much sense.

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      • Jason H says:

        Obviously Granderson’s defensive abilities aren’t measured accurately by UZR (because no one’s are). However, as someone who watches the Yankees, Granderson is not a great defender. He isn’t the worst, but he isn’t good. He breaks late or wrong on most balls hit right at him. He is a classic example of a player reacting to the swing and not the path of the ball. I think that, because his instincts are bad, he’d be better off taking a second to judge the path of the ball rather than reacting immediately when balls are hit right at him. There are lots of instances of him taking two steps in or back before wildly turning around and sprinting back only to have a ball go over his head or land in front of him.

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      • Jason H says:


        But the Yankees were correct for not moving Jeter to accommodate Arod. They were similar defenders at the time, but now it is not even conceivable that Arod could handle shortstop. Further, this was a pretty predictable trajectory given their differences in body type.

        Because of their correct decision the Yankees have had almost perfect stability on the left side of the infield for 8 years (except for the times when Arod has not been able to play because of the breakdown of his body). At any rate, they are almost certainly the most productive 3B/SS pairing during that time.

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      • Jason B says:

        “But the Yankees were correct for not moving Jeter to accommodate Arod.”

        I believe Arod was considered the better defender when acquired using most any defensive metric and/or the eye test. You are correct in that his body hasn’t held up nearly as well as El Capitan over time.

        “At any rate, they are almost certainly the most productive 3B/SS pairing during that time.”

        At the plate, very likely so, as much because few if any teams have had similar continuity over eight years or so from both positions. However their fielding leaves has and continues to leave much to be desired (which they have generally more than made up for at the dish).

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      • Jason H says:

        Jason B,

        For the most part, I agree with everything you said. My real point was that it is unfair to criticize either the Yankees or Jeter for switching Arod to third. In hindsight, we can be pretty sure the Yankees made the correct decision (unless you believe Arod would have somehow broken down less playing the more demanding position). For some reason, the idea that the Yankees are stupid for keeping Jeter at short and moving Arod to third is a persistent meme. Its not fair, because no matter what their reasoning, the Yankees got it right, and they won a lot of games with their chosen configuration.

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      • delv says:

        Curtis’ UZR issues may be due to being now positioned differently because of Gardner’s absence. His left fielder right now is terrible.

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      • RC says:

        The thing is, the average CF is a great defender. Granderson isn’t a bad defender, but hes just nowhere near what his position calls for.

        He’d probably be a decent RF/LF. He’s just a bad CF.

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      • Tom N. says:

        For his career, UZR considers Granderson an average to marginally above-average CF. I’d assume that’s a more realistic assessment of his defense than less than half a season worth of a statistic with significant measurement variability, that takes three years or so to properly stabilize…

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  4. Robert says:

    I agree with your reliance on how well people have played rather than how famous they are, but I believe one should take into account a whole year of data – since the beginning of last July (or even earlier if one’s at the park voting earlier in the process). Two months of data is just too noisy – and people who have fantastic second halves should be recognized for them.

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  5. MikeS says:

    Adam Dunn may have played some first base this year but he is a DH. Not a first baseman.

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  6. Baltar says:

    The All Star game was invented for and still should be 100% for the fans. Forget the Byzantine structure now employed. One IP address–one vote.

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    • fergie348 says:

      Being a network admin with access to hundreds of unused IP addresses, I approve your plan..

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      • a says:

        Uh, ever heard of NAT? You don’t have hundreds of public IP addresses lying around, sorry. But, nice try.

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      • John Thacker says:


        Oh, there’s a few possibilities. Say he works for HP. Do you really think that the company uses the entire (Class A, in old school) allocation it has? 16,777,216 addresses does seem a bit much for the one company’s needs. Same for MIT, Ford, Apple, Computer Sciences Corporation, or a host of others with nice legacy allocations.

        Of course, he may not have access, but nice try commenting while making an assumption.

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      • Baltar says:

        If you smartasses can find a 100% fair way of giving one man/one vote that can’t be gamed, please state what it is.
        Even the federal/state election systems are subject to cheating.
        These network administrators can perform the same cheating now if they want to badly enough.
        Give me an alternative proposal or shut the *()__)( up!

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      • Brandon says:

        Just wait until IPv6 is standard…

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  7. Real talk says:

    So what was the methodology for choosing? Was it based on an objective metric like WAR (ie, picking the guys with the highest WAR at each position, with some modifications to ensure every team is represented), or were there other factors considered? I have no problem with you doing it either way, but it would be helpful to get some kind of thought process here (if there was one). Considering it’s a “stat nerd” roster, it would be useful to know which stats were used.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      There was no strict formula. It was a combination performance (as evaluated as a whole, not just straight WAR sorting), talent, and interest in seeing them, with the first one being weighed the most heavily.

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      • Ivan Grushenko says:

        The last two sound subjective. In what sense is it a “Stat Nerd” list?

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      • Beantown says:

        Kind of what I figured, which is why the format of the article surprised me.

        I thought there would have been some sorting of stats, or some compound stat work a la the NERD watchability rating, and then a simple table at the end showing who should be all-stars by position. With weighting for 1st-half-2012 vs. career as you like.

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      • dnc says:

        Ivan, in the sense that Cameron is a “Stat Nerd?”

        I don’t think he was presenting it as THE Stat Nerd roster, more like A Stat Nerd roster.

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  8. AL says:

    Shouldn’t Sabathia at least warrant an apologies to? He’s outpitched Hammel for one.

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  9. KC says:

    Dave, nice article as always. All good picks.
    What about Frieri, though? Seems like a glaring snub.

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  10. U-God says:

    De Aza definitely deserves an apology to.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Outfield in both leagues was really hard.

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      • U-God says:

        Yeah, but Seth Smith?

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      • BX says:

        I agree with U-God on De Aza, although I’ll defend the Seth Smith apology.

        Smith’s got a 132 WRC+ among AL OF; every other AL OF with a higher WRC+ with the exception of Matt Joyce made Dave’s all star team. Coliseum hurts his offensive stats.

        WAR-wise, he’s harmed by Melvin keeping him in a VERY strict platoon with Gomes (who should never ever play the OF) until Cowgill got hurt and Cespedes’ was relegated to the DL and then DHing due to hamstring injuries.

        Until then, he was regularly DHing when his glove isn’t bad enough to DH (thus getting the DH penalty),

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      I was going to say this.

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  11. Daniel says:

    Just voted for the game, and then popped back here to see the new articles of the day. Exactly what I voted! (Except I voted Kinsler because of my bias and how much I didn’t want Cano to start…)

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  12. Johnhavok says:

    Encarnacion has started over 40 games as DH, wouldn’t he be more of a fit in the DH role. either way I applaud you for including him since there’s no chance he gets there as a 1b or DH unless the manager picks him.

    Fan voting always results in egregious oversights.

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  13. Austin says:

    How does Mike Aviles get no love at SS? I’ll grant the fact his OBP is very ugly and definitely has his deficiencies in the field. However, among AL shortstops check some of his rankings:
    1st in RBIs (41)
    T-1st in Doubles (18)
    2nd in Slugging% (.419)
    T-2nd in HRs (9)
    3rd in WAR (1.8)

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  14. Guest says:

    I suppose no apologies to Brendan Ryan means that not even near-otherworldly defense can save sub-Mendoza-line work at bat, not even for a shortstop.

    “A run saved is a run earned”, as the saying goes, but it still doesn’t help those who aren’t earning runs at the plate.

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  15. Adam says:

    Something needs to be said, and this seems as appropriate a place for it. What are we to make of the fairly large discrepancy between Lawrie’s bWAR value and his fWAR value?

    I would agree that he’s not a worthy all-star representative for the AL (apologies really should be to Canada), but bWAR has him pegged as the most valuable player in all of baseball – stemming largely from his defensive value. Using DRS, he’s on pace to have what they peg as the most valuable defensive season (by no small margin) since the specific metric was introduced by Baseball Info Solutions in 2003.

    I’m not sure what to even make of the stat when in one metric he’s the most valuable player in baseball, while in the other he’s not an all-star.

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    • DD says:

      Ther ewas an article o this recently, I forget where. It spoke of how he’s getting crazy credit for playing short RF on defensive shifts. Certainly helps with the range factor.

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    • juan pierres mustache says:

      i take it that DRS does include shift plays where UZR does not?

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  16. Anders says:

    No Jose Bautista? It’s obvious most of these picks are biased. What’s happened to fangraphs?

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  17. Kevin says:

    Pedroia? It’s clear The author doesn’t like the sox.
    Jealous of success?

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  18. Justin says:


    I agree that Wilhelmsen has been terrific and certainly is a deserving choice for the All-Star game if you need/want relief pitching. But he is not the “most deserving member of the Mariners roster”. That still belongs to Felix.

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  19. Matty Brown says:

    1. Trout
    2. Cano
    3. Konerko
    4. Hamilton
    5. Beltre
    6. Ortiz
    7. Jones
    8. Mauer
    9. Andrus


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  20. Eugene Jacket says:

    WAIT. Jim Johnson doesn’t make the cut? I know he’s due to regress, but really?

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    • Jason B says:

      At least this time you posted this comment on the correct league’s roster & discussion thread. Progress!!

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  21. Ryan Carey says:

    Not a fan of the a-hole but A.J. Pierzynski deserves a spot on the team as recognition of his career season at the age of 35. Even with his recent cold streak he is still the top rated C in the AL. From a fantasy perspective, being that he was likely a late round steal, he’s been even that much more valuable.

    Zobrist over Kinsler? Really? I get that Kinsler has slumped in June – but Zobrist was putrid for April/May and has played 2/3 of his games in the OF. How is he a UT guy. He can’t play SS or 3B. Shouldn’t be on the team.

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    • yossifeins says:

      I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, I just don’t think you’ve really compared the two’s stats yet. Once you look more into it you’ll see that putting Zobrist ahead of Kinsler is not that ridiculous. Zobrist gets on base more and has a higher wRC+.

      And he definitely is a utility man, and he can play 3B.

      The main reason why I don’t think he should be considered the top two AL second basemen (as of now) is his defense, which has been for some reason sloppy at second this year. Both Kipnis and Cano are obviously better this season, and as for Kinsler, well, that’s debatable.

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  22. sb says:

    Jason Hammel out after last night’s 8 run shellacking by Angels. Wilson in.

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  23. Zach says:

    Where was Brandon Morrow on this list before he got hurt? On the team? Apologies? Had to be in consideration right?

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