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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