Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Real American League All-Stars

In 1927, the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated three films for Best Picture. Through the years, the number of nominees has fluctuated, reaching a high of twelve in 1935. Today, the Academy nominates 10 movies to contend for one of entertainment's most important awards.

During most of this generation's existence, we dealt with 5 nominees, leaving us room to figure out what films were truly snubbed. (And by "we," I mean film losers historians like Pucklius and TuckRule.) When the field was expanded to 10, the definition of "snub" was changed. If you can't make the top 10 movies of one itty bitty calendar year, then stop complaining. I'm lucky if I can get my butt to watch 5 movies, total, in the theater per year, so I don't care about the 11th and 12th best movie.

And so goes the definition of "snub" regarding the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. There are thirty-friggin-four players selected for each league's All-Star team. Each professional roster, however, still clings to a 25-man roster. So baseball has decided to reward 18 extra total dudes with the distinction of being an All-Star. Wonderful.

KOBEsh and I have taken it upon ourselves to create the MAMBINO MLB All-Stars, comprised of 25-man rosters for each league. These rosters represent the true All-Stars in both the American and National Leagues. Normally, we'd rage against the machine about what the fans got wrong with the starters and what the coaches/players did wrong in selecting the reserves. This edition of Mambino All-Stars will include that, plus this little wrinkle of truncating each roster by at least 9 players (it's likely to be more than 9, since everybody and their mother bows out due to injury or due to the fact that they pitched the previous day. More horsecrap, but I digress.) The rosters are filled out with the express goal of putting the best team forward. This means lefty specialists in the bullpen, utility infielders, and more!

Don't get me started on the other terrible rules concerning the MLB All-Star game. Since that wretched tie in 2002, it seems like Selig and his cronies have panicked, making the Midsummer Classic the most unrepresentative game of a league's best and brightest since Super Lawyers decided not to include me (again).

Catcher: Joe Mauer (starter), A.J. Pierzynski

Mauer has encountered a lot of grief after signing a mammoth nine-figure deal way back when, but compared to his backstop brethren, he still brings the goods. He leads all major league catchers in hits and runs, and is tops among AL catchers in batting average and on-base percentage. Last month, the Mauer line was very face-of-the-franchise-esque, piling up a triple slash of .397/.438/.538 and driving in 15 runs with that joke of a Twins lineup to help him. His picture-perfect swing is almost as glorious as his Minnesota hair:

Pierzynski is right there, having clubbed 14 dingers and hitting at an overall .285 clip. Across the board, his numbers are mostly better than young Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, so he gets the nod to carry Mauer's gear. Wieters can be called up to warm up the bullpen guys if need be.

First Base: Edwin Encarnacion (s), Prince Fielder

It is an absolute travesty that Encarnacion didn't even come close to garnering any All-Star consideration from the fans this year. What's that? He plays for Toronto? Got it.

Encarnacion has had a relatively non-descript career, but he has produced numbers in bunches this year. He is second among MLB first basemen in home runs with 22, but unlike Adam Dunn (24), Encarnacion is ripping base hits to the tune of a .292 average. And for this post's purposes, he can also fill in at third base whenever Miguel Cabrera eats too many tacos before the game.

Fielder's numbers aren't as overwhelming as Encarnacion's, but they should be, since he's making six times as much in salary. Apologies to the first basemen on the north side of Chicago, but neither of them provide the dual power-speed threat that Encarnacion brings. Even if a tiebreaker was necessary, it goes to the IMD Laser Clinic spokesman:

Second Base: Robinson Cano (s), Ian Kinsler

Cano has been having an incredible power surge over the past couple weeks. Kinsler has been raking for years in Texas. The only thing worth mentioning is how tough it was to leave Cleveland's Jason Kipnis off the roster.

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera

Cabrera is having another MVP-type year for Detroit, even after moving across the diamond to third base. He hasn't had less than 20 RBI in ANY month this season, and leads all American League hitters with 103 hits. The guy is an absolute monster.

Adrian Beltre would have made the All-Star team with an expanded roster, but with two other players in the lineup who could play third base (Encarnacion, Jose Bautista), there just isn't enough room.

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus

Over the last 16 games, Andrus has hit at a scorching clip of .381, with seven stolen bases and 13 runs. He is on pace for a career year, which, at 23, is nothing short of amazing. Even more amazing when most experts predicted him to fall back to earth after last year's great season.

Derek Jeter was a lock for this spot back in April, when he took the Yankees on his shoulders. Unfortunately, the law of averages has caught up to The Captain, another victim of the 25-man roster.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton (s), Jose Bautista (s), Adam Jones (s), Curtis Granderson, Mike Trout

Hamilton and Bautista are probably shoo-ins, barring injury, to start for a Mambino All-Star team for the next couple of years. Their numbers won't surprise you, but those of Adam Jones certainly will. 19 HRs, 11 SBs, and an OPS just south of .900 merit the nod.

Granderson's 23 homers are eye-popping, especially for a guy that doesn't exactly look like he'd kill you in a dark alley. He's not on the roster for his less-than-stellar batting average, and he does strike out too much. However, his world class defense in centerfield for the best team in baseball makes him an obvious choice to be the team's 4th outfielder. And speaking of defense, it's nice to see such talent in a young'n:

My. Goodness.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

At the tender age of 36, Big Papi has reached 20+ longballs before the All-Star break for the first time in six years. There haven't been five players in the major leagues with better numbers, so he's as good of a lock as anyone. Bonus points for his constant bickering about the clueless Boston sports media.

Starting Rotation: Justin Verlander (1), Jake Peavy (2), David Price (3), Chris Sale (4), CC Sabathia (5)

If there's a debate related to starting pitching, it's whether El Miz, my self-appointed bench coach for this Mambino All-Star team, will let me use Verlander on short rest with Sabathia on the shelf. He paces all American Leaguers in strikeouts, and trails Stephen Strasburg of Washington by 1 for the major league lead, only Verlander doesn't get to zoom triple digit fastballs by pitchers like Strasburg does every week.

If Wins weren't a valuable category among players and coaches, Peavy would have made the real All-Star team. He pitched to a 2.76 ERA in June, only to go 0-4 because the White Sox bats fell silent when he took the hill. They were so bad that Peavy has had just TWO runs scored for him in his last 4 June starts!

David Price, he of the 2.92 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, is as cool as the other side of the pillow.

Chris Sale's last 7 starts have been unbelievable. He has posted an absurd ERA under 2, striking out 54 batters in 52 innings, en route to a sparkling 5-0 record. He leads the American League in ERA, is second in WHIP, 6th in strikeouts, and 4th in wins. He's only 23, and he's been so dominant that manager Robin Ventura wouldn't dare let him close games anymore.

Sabathia is Sabathia. The workhorse of the Yankee staff, Carsten Charles got outs by the K 105 times in 107 innings, matched by a pristine 1.27 WHIP.

Bullpen: C.J. Wilson (long), Fernando Rodney (closer), Jim Johnson, Chris Perez, Joe Nathan, Scott Downs (lefty)

I'm getting lazy, so here's a quick rundown. Wilson gets the nod over teammate Jeff Weaver for staying healthy. Rodney, Johnson, Perez, and Nathan are the best closers in the AL. And Scott Downs is left-handed.


  1. Konerko is having a better year than Fielder even with fewer ABs (was briefly injured)... still has more HRs and higher AVG and OBP... also think Trumbo is more deserving than Granderson and Weaver leads the AL in ERA and should replace Downs or CC imo... really like your list of all stars a lot more than the actual team which is basically the Texas Rangers

  2. I too think Trumbo is more deserving offensively, but it's close with Granderson and if we're doing this like a real team, I'd also take into consideration Granderson's defense.

    I would take Weaver over CC actually. Gotta keep Downs on there because you need a lefty specialist, and there really aren't a lot better than Downs.

  3. You're an idiot.

    1. Real insightful comment... at least explain why

    2. I mean, Anonymous #1 does have a point. Bockerknocker IS an idiot.