Identifying deserving All-Stars a tall task
With slightly more than a month before the All-Star Game, I was given the task of selecting the teams for the American and National leagues. It was very difficult. There were too many players at some positions, not enough at others, too many worthy All-Stars on .500 clubs, not enough All-Stars for division contenders and so many players with similar statistics.I'm glad someone else has to make the official selections in about a month. Good luck to American League manager Terry Francona and National League manager Clint Hurdle. If things don't get clearer by then, they'll need it.
American LeagueCatcher: Joe Mauer, Twins: This was relatively easy. Mauer is among the league leaders in hitting (.327) even though he has only two home runs.
Reserve: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox. First base: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: This is a premium offensive position that usually provides several worthy candidates. But this year, no AL first baseman is having a terrific year (though three NL first basemen are). We'll take Youkilis, based partly on his very good defense.
Reserves: Jason Giambi, Yankees, and Justin Morneau, Twins.
Reserve: Brian Roberts, Orioles. Third base: Joe Crede, White Sox: A year ago, his back injury was so bad that he couldn't even stand without tremendous pain. Now his back has healed, and he's seventh in the league in slugging.
Reserve: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. He makes it despite missing almost a month. Shortstop: Michael Young, Rangers: He's second in the league in runs and third in hits.
Reserve: Derek Jeter.
Reserves: B.J. Upton, Rays, Manny Ramirez, Red Sox, Magglio Ordonez, Tigers and Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners.
National LeagueCatcher: Brian McCann, Braves. He's hitting .305 and slugging .568.
Reserves: Bengie Molina, Giants and Russell Martin, Dodgers. It's a good year for catchers in the National League. First base: Lance Berkman, Astros. A Triple Crown candidate, he is crushing pitches from both sides of the plate.
Reserves: Albert Pujols, Cardinals and the NL's RBI leader, Adrian Gonzalez, Padres.
Reserve: Dan Uggla, Marlins (a starter in almost any other season) and Mark DeRosa, Cubs. Third base: Chipper Jones, Braves. He is hitting .414 -- .404 left-handed and .444 right-handed, and with power from both sides. He's 94-for-227. Think about how good that is.
Reserve: David Wright, Mets. Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. Injuries to him and the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal have slightly held back the position this season.
Reserves: Miguel Tejada, Astros and Cristian Guzman, Nationals.
Reserves: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Aaron Rowand, Giants and Xavier Nady, Pirates. Starting pitchers: Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, Cubs, Edinson Volquez, Reds, Ben Sheets, Brewers, Aaron Cook, Rockies, Tim Lincecum, Giants and Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals.